Sunday, 1 November 2015

Under a snuggly blanket

I love to make blankets for babies and almost everyone, it seems, loves to get a handmade gift for their newborn.  So with two new babies expected in our family this summer, I had a lovely task ahead of me.
My parents were planning a trip to visit my sister and (hopefully) her new baby in mid-August and my gift had to be on that flight with them so that was a fixed deadline!  I started early, soon after my sister sent me an image of the nursery scheme they had included in their baby list.  I love a crochet squares blanket; all those little finishes, each square, each colour, each joined seam, each border colour!  I was finishing it right up til the last minute; I had to borrow a wool needle from my mum to sew in the border ends before I could leave it with them!
I had to tweak the colours towards the end to keep the balance more on the blues than the others and I'm really pleased at how it came out.  It's loosely based on the Elmer blanket from Little Tin Bird, my go-to crochet square for babies.

We were expecting a proper surprise this time round; no clue at all from any of our scans so I decided on a rainbow blanket for our little one.  This is a crochet granny stripe, you can find loads of patterns online but I think I originally found mine at Attic24.  It's approximately 60cm by 120cm, the same size as our cot, but folded in half, it's doing very nicely for the moses basket at the moment.
As usual, for both blankets, I've used Stylecraft Special DK acrylic yarn.  It's cheap and cheerful but you wouldn't know that from the feel of the finished blanket.  It's perfect for baby blankets because you can bung it in the washing machine and it washes and dries beautifully.
This blanket was not finished before the baby arrived but I did get it done in time to use it as a backdrop for some important photos!

Sunday, 25 October 2015

On our final arrival

Looking back over my archives, the reason I've been quiet for so long is predictable;
This little love joined our noisy family at the end of August.  This year has been so full of good things that keeping sane meant choosing what to drop.  Children, home, work, husband and sleep won out!
Elias Andrew Longden Ingram
25th August 2015
7lb 13.5oz

He was nameless for nearly a week, much longer than our other little ones whose names were mostly set before they were born.  It didn't help that we truly didn't know what we were expecting; we actually had a girl's name ready to go.  He'd been Eli in my head for weeks but it didn't seem long enough for a 'proper' name.  A couple of days after he was born, Andy suggested Elias (which is the Greek form of Elijah and means 'The Lord Most High') but it was another 3 days before we could discuss it properly and make a decision.
The children have adored him since day one; I'm slightly concerned that Sammy will love him to pieces!  He's settled in nicely and I've felt better after this delivery than I did after any of the others.  Life carries on around him; Isaac's back at school for Year One, Anna's at preschool 5 mornings a week and Sam is just learning to talk.
Andy and I are tired and busy but delighted that our family is complete.  Here's to the next stage on our big adventure!

Thursday, 1 January 2015

On New Year's Day

So at the beginning of last year I made a few lists of things I'd like to accomplish in 2014.  Reading back now, it's interesting to see which things got done and which are still hanging over me.

  • Finish decorating the nursery
  • Replace bathroom
  • Decorate hallway and staircase
  • Mammoth decluttering project!
So the nursery and bathrrom are done and I love them both so much.  Unfortunately, I must have forgotten to specify that the bathroom should be self-cleaning.....  The hallway/staircase and living room are on the agenda for this year; maybe one major renovation project a year is enough for us!  As for the decluttering, I think that's a bit of a pipe dream.  I have been better at getting rid of stuff this year, so this is definitely a work in progress.

  • Rationalise yarn projects
  • Project Life 2014
  • Scrapbooking
  • Finish kitchen blind
  • Make patchwork quilt.
Ummmm.... I did plenty of crafty things this year, including winding my own yarn from a skein.  I did manage to get my WIPs under control and I've been finishing things all year.  Project Life is about 8 weeks behind, but that's totally fixable!  I did scrapbook but maybe not as much as I'd hoped.  As for the blind and the quilt?  Let's not talk about them today.

  • Continue to build a strong and long-lasting marriage; regular time together, without the children!
  • Continue to consider the children's temperaments, developmental stages and natural tendencies 
  • Continue with our daily and weekly routines
  • Provide consistent discipline for the children
  • Go on a family holiday
  • Spend time with our extended families.
This was the year of the tent for us.  We took several holidays together, including one with my parents and siblings so that's two big check marks right there!  I've loved seeing all the children develop this year and how their personalities are changing as they grow.  Routines continue to be important but also flexible.  The only thing I'm not happy about on this list is making time to spend with Andy apart from the children.  We recently went out for the day together for the first time since Samuel was born.  That said, while we don't leave the house very often, we do spend most evenings in together and do family things at the weekends.

  • Attend trainees committee meetings
  • Read Archives monthly
  • Complete allergy data project
Being off work for an entire calendar year has been both wonderful and really really strange.  I've seen quite a few friends from work over the course of the year and so I've kept up with the news and gossip from the department.  I've also attended all but one of the committee meetings over the year and done a few bits and pieces between meetings for that.  I didn't read even one full issue of Archives and I didn't do that data analysiis project but I did enrol in a Masters in Medical Education and I've been pleasantly surprised how engaging the work has been so far.

  • Use an anti-ageing moisturiser and consider an eye cream
  • Moderate my expectations to fit the season.
This is a really really interesting one!  I did use an anti-ageing moisturiser for part of the year but to be honest, I didn't see enough of a benefit to justify the cost and it was so much more convenient to use my general moisturiser for my face.  I think my biggest achievement of the year, apart from having a baby obviously, was losing 2 stone and 8 pounds!  I'm the lightest I've ever been in my adult life (and probably most of my teenage years too!) and I feel amazing.  I buy clothes a size smaller than I thought I'd ever get back into.  The thing I'm most proud of is that I stuck in there to the finish line, I didn't bail out with half a stone to go and say 'that's good enough'.  I found it in myself to be kind and tolerant of my habits and my needs.  I actually started to believe that 'tomorrow is another day' and that one mistake doesn't ruin an entire day's work.

I'd forgotten that my take-home message last year was to moderate my expectations to fit the season.  I was discussing this with friends yesterday and one of them commented that I was good at deciding when to let things go and just accept what was possible.  Looking back over the year, of course there have been times when I've sat on the floor and cried, but for the most part, I've made my priorities and put them into practise.  I think I must have said a million times this year 'how do I do it all?  I don't, my house is untidy and unclean.'  It's the truth, and I'm satisfied with that.

So looking ahead to 2015?  This year is going to be crazy-busy.  One thing I've learned this year is exactly how much work three children, a husband and a house create.  I'm really not sure how things are going to work once I'm also trying to do my job at the same time.  So my word for 2015 is SEASON; there's a time for everything and a season for every purpose under the sun (Ecc 3 v.1, The Holy Bible).  I have a list of goals for the year, including that decorating project and my Masters degree, but over all of it, I know that I am here, in this time of my life, with these people, for a specific purpose.

Monday, 13 October 2014

From a smaller perspective

I take a lot of photos.  A.  Lot.  But other than the occasional selfie, they're pretty much all of other people.  My hubby's pretty good though, when I hand him the camera, he takes great photos for me.  Earlier this year, at Isaac's birthday party, I did just that but boy was I not pleased with the results.  Don't get me wrong, Andy took some lovely shots that captured the day and all the things we got up to.  It was that cuddly mummy I saw wearing my clothes.  I knew that I'd put on weight after my babies; I managed to lose some of it after Anna and then put it back on again once she was breast-feeding less often, and then some more when I was pregnant with Sam.  Something about those photos really brought home to me how much I didn't look like myself and this time, I was going to do something about it.  I was determined that I would take Isaac to school and meet all his new classmates at a weight that felt like me.  Plus, I've always hoped for four children and there was no way I was accumulating more weight with another pregnancy.  I struggled more with Samuel than with the others and I knew that I wouldn't manage all my reponsibilities during a fourth pregnancy without getting healthier.
I started off with an exercise routine that a few of my friends were doing but to be honest, I was in denial about the main cause of my weight; our diet.  A friend had recently posted some amazing photos of her weight loss through Slimming World and I was inspired.   I knew she had a busy family life and worked as well so I thought this might be the way for me.  I do really well when I've got a structure to follow and some accountability.  I've been a member of Weight Watchers in the past and I knew that their point-counting plan wouldn't work with our family routines and meals.

I joined a great group nearby on a Tuesday morning and stood on the scales that first day to find out that I was the largest I have ever been.  I had just been out to buy some size 16 trousers because I had nothing that would fit me.  I dutifully took my measurements and wrote it all down.  I had a dream weight; a number that has always been in my head, that I've never thought I could get back to, based on a photograph when my arms and my face are skinny.

Fast forward 17 weeks and I've done it.  I've hit that target weight and I feel fantastic.  I've been shopping and bought everything in a size 10, knowing that it would fit me when I tried it on.  I own skinny jeans, elegant boat-neck jumpers and clingy t-shirts.  I feel like myself again.  It is awesome.
I can't pretend it's been easy but it hasn't been amazingly hard either.  I just followed the Slimming World plan; loads of fruit and vegetables, lean protein and starchy carbs with enough treats to keep me sane.  I didn't eat white bread for 3 months.  I stopped adding oil to food.  I grill instead of frying.  I bought fun size Milky Ways and sugar free squash.  I rediscovered yoghurt.  The nice thing about the plan for me is that I can see the sound nutritional principles behind it and that it's flexible enough to deal sensibly with breast-feeding (increasing your calcium-rich dairy foods).  I'm trying to find a new balance now, where I can maintain this healthy weight as I adapt to feeding Sam less often and eventually stopping.

I'm so proud of myself for sticking with it and for achieving my goal.  And now, when I hand Andy the camera, I get photos I like looking at!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

In ten minutes flat

Everyone has those days where you look around your house and want to scream.  There's always something else that needs doing.  I'm fighting a battle with the clutter and the dust and I'm losing!  (Everyone feels like that, right?  Please tell me I'm not the only one!)
I have this little trick for those times when I think I will actually scream if something doesn't get done, sharpish!  I put the kettle on to boil to make a cup of coffee (it's an instant caramel latte actually, but I won't judge if you want to make tea instead) then I look around for the most visually impactful jobs.  The things that jump straight out at me, accusingly.  Usually it's putting away the washing up or taking the recycling out to the bin.  (We pile our recycling on the counter after it's been rinsed or just inside the front door if it's coming down from upstairs.)  I spend the time it takes for the water to boil and then cool enough to be ready for coffee blitzing the things that jump out at me.  Usually I end up thinking 'just one more thing' and getting a few more bits done too.  After I'm finished, I haven't usually spent more than five minutes cleaning or tidying and there's always more things to do but there's something about doing those little bitty jobs that get glossed over again and again.  I think it's because I see them all over the place, nagging at me.  Getting them done seems so freeing and helps me relax.  Occasionally it even gives me the energy and motivation to move on to something more significant.  Mostly I just take my coffee and go find something more fun to do.