Monday, January 30, 2017

Cookery Calendar Challenge: January

It is great to be joining back in with Penny's Cookery Calendar Challenge this year. For January, I decided to revisit the same book I started with last time, Mary Berry's Complete Cookbook. However, this time I decided to go back to basics, and cook some dishes that I am familiar with. I thought it would be interesting to follow a recipe for dishes that I would normally cook without much thought and see if I learnt anything new. As a result, I must apologise, as none of these dishes are particularly inventive, or aesthetically pleasing, but I had fun even so!

First up was spaghetti carbonara, partly because I was already planning to make it so I thought I would lift out the recipe book. I know it is traditionally made with egg, but I usually avoid this and just do a bacon, cream and cheese sauce, because previous attempts have ended up liked scrambled egg pasta. Mary's recipe called for the traditional egg though, and it worked really well. I would not usually put parsley in either, assuming oregano would be the way to go, but it added a nice freshness that stopped it being too rich. A definite winner.

Next up, and I did warn that these dishes were lacking in attractiveness, was shepherd's pie. I would usually make cottage pie, so it was a nice change to use lamb mince, and the addition of Worcestershire sauce was a new one for me. The recipe also recommended discarding the fat once the lamb had browned, which I would not have thought to do, and really helped prevent the dish becoming too oily. This made a lovely Sunday dinner, and received plenty of compliments from Grandad and The Husband.

I actually made a third recipe from the book this month, though I have spared you the picture as I tried and failed to make lasagne look anything other than a sloppy mess. The end result was delicious, but the recipe was the source of much debate. I was surprised that it included celery, and that there were no mushrooms. I also tend to put the pasta on top of the ragu and then top with bechamel, and only put cheese on the very top, but this suggested ragu, then bechamel, then cheese, then pasta for each layer. The Husband was horrified that the top layer was ragu, bechamel and cheese, but without a final layer of pasta, as that is his favourite part. Considering the dish served eight though, I'm sure he had plenty of pasta to be going on with. I noticed that the recipe on the packet of lasagne sheets was very similar, and included celery, and layered the dish in the same way, so I considered this a lesson in the art of a traditional lasagne! The dijon mustard in the bechamel was a new one to me aswell, but it was one of my more successful attempts at white sauce (by which I mean it didn't require a sieve) so I shall again bow to Mary's superior knowledge.

Finally, I thought I might include a link each month to a recipe I have made from the bbc food website. This is always my first port of call when I'm looking for recipes, and so I thought it would be nice to include it here too (I hope Penny doesn't mind me expanding the scope slightly!). This idea has mostly arisen because today I had one of those fortuitous cooking sessions where I found a recipe that made use of all of the bits and pieces I had languishing in the bottom of the fridge. It started as a recipe for sausages and cabbage, but happily made use of the two carrots, soggy celery, leftover parsley and half peeled lemon into the bargain, aswell as the last few crusts from last week's loaf. It was an incredibly flavoursome sausage casserole, with a cabbage pesto (better than it sounds!) and breadcrumbs, and I can heartily recommend it.

Friday, January 27, 2017

word of the week

Another Friday and another word to sum up the last week, which has been a great one. There has been lots of socialising this week. I always make an effort to get out each week to the library baby group, and the swimming pool, but I don't really know anyone at the different sessions, and the introvert in me isn't brilliant at small talk so I tend to throw my energy into singing nursery rhymes!

This week has been full of baby giggles, and he wakes up every morning grinning, which is always a lovely way to start the day. After work friends came to visit, I called to see another friend at the weekend to drop off her birthday present. I wimped out of her party as I was still getting over the last of the cough and would have hated to pass it on, but I'm glad I made the effort to say hello, albeit briefly.

We saw The Husband's parents, and nephews, and then Grandad came over for Sunday dinner, so it felt like a real family weekend. On Monday Mum joined me at the library, and then we nipped to the shops, and it was lovely to have some adult company during the singing! On Wednesday I popped to see some friends and their little boy. They live fairly nearby, so I made the effort to walk the mile and a half, which was a lovely start to the day enjoying the sunshine with the baby. Then the quick visit turned into a whole day, and lunch, and a really good catch up.

Then yesterday included a walk to the park with the baby, Mum and Millie, followed by a lunch out. It was brilliant to sit, do crosswords, drink tea, all with a giggling baby for company. Last night The Husband and I had a delicious meal out, an eight course tasting menu that was a Christmas gift from my grandad. Mum and Mal provided expert babysitting services, and we had a relaxing night out, one of the best meals we've had in ages, and I even had my first glass of prosecco in well over a year. It was a fantastic night, and it was lovely to come home to a sleeping baby, and a sleeping dog, snuggled up with their grandparents after a happy night.

Now it is Friday and the weekend is almost here, ready for lots of family time with The Husband. Today has already included lots of cuddles and laughs, and now the baby is smiling in his sleep on my chest. Later we will go to the library and there will be nursery rhymes, and a story, and I might even brave some small talk!

The Reading Residence

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

wonderful wednesday #4

Another round up of some of the wonderful things going on this week.

Understanding Aperture: Although slightly bizarre, the picture above definitely makes my wonderful list this week. I signed up for Emma's A Year With My Camera project last year, and though I read the emails for the first few weeks I didn't actually pick up my camera and get started. This year I've managed to stick with it, and the above is my attempts at playing with the aperture settings on my camera. Not only am I chuffed that I managed to get the basic effect I was looking for (blurred vs focussed background), I was particularly proud of myself for taking my proper camera to the park, with the baby and the beagle, and actually being brave enough to lift it out in public and take pictures, even with other people around!

Catching Up: I've had quite a sociable week for a woman on maternity leave who knows exactly no other parents on maternity leave! Some friends from work popped by, and it was great to catch up and introduce them to the baby. Today I visited a good friend at 10am, and what started as a cuppa turned into multiple cuppas, and then lunch, and generally a good time. Made even better by getting home and finding flowers, eclairs, pies and pork chops (a random assortment I grant you) left in the kitchen by my Grandad. 

Shepherd's Pie: Firstly, the grammar fiend in me is deliberating whether it is the pie of one shepherd, or many shepherds, but I settled on one hungry one! We had another happy Sunday night where Grandad joined us for Sunday dinner, and another comfort dish, The Husband's choice this time, of shepherd's pie followed by rice pudding. 

Daffodils: The Husband brought me flowers last week, and as well as roses, he also picked up our first bunches of daffodils of the year. They have been a little source of joy all week long, and a lovely hint that spring is on its way soon.

Giggles: Now well and truly over his cough, the baby is back to his lovely, happy self, and has been giggling merrily all week. Current favourites include me saying oh-oh, oh-no, or just opening my mouth very wide and saying ahhhh. Sometimes just opening my mouth wide and not saying a thing. He also likes me pretending to eat his fingers, and loves it even more if I then proclaim that they are delicious. He is in raptures at round and round the garden, and can barely contain himself when he knows the tickles are coming. He still thinks being lifted high up over my head is hilarious. More than once this week I have found myself laughing uproariously, at him laughing uproariously, at me saying oh-oh. It is a wonderful confidence boost spending so much time with someone who thinks you are the funniest person on the planet!

Snoring: Last night I sat on the sofa with the baby fast asleep in my arms, snoring, and the dog stretched out at my side snoring. I needed to put subtitles on the television, and I'm relieved The Husband didn't join in and complete the hat-trick, but it was a pretty lovely sound nonetheless.

If you would like to visit some of the others (highly recommended) then Sally is the originator of the idea, you can search for #wonderfulwednesday and these lovely folks all post too: JoHelenMichelleSarahKateCatSamEl , KerriMimmiMartinaIsabelle. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

word of the week

After a weekend feeling really grotty indeed, I am feeling very appreciative today of the fact that we seem to be improving (and hoping that The Husband doesn't succumb to the same bug!). It has been a lovely week all in all, and there is a lot to be thankful for.

I am grateful to our parents for giving us the gift of a holiday for Christmas, we had a brilliant trip and it was a perfect first holiday as a family of three. I'm also grateful that they looked after Millie while we went, and spoilt her rotten with lots of cuddles and walks. All of the staff at the hotel also earned my utmost gratitude, making us so welcome and relaxed during our first experience of holidaying with a baby.

I had a lovely afternoon out with my grandad yesterday. I am so glad to have him so nearby, and to have the chance for him to see his great-grandson so often, especially as he can make him giggle like no-one else.

Today some work colleagues are popping in to visit, the first time I will see them since I went on maternity leave. It is brilliant of them to come by, and I'm glad I have made good friends over the last few years.

Today our little boy turns 5 months old, and I am increasingly thankful for our happy, wonderful son. He is such a delight, and I love how the simplest of things make him launch into the most joyful laughter. It is so incredible to watch him grow, to see the world through his eyes, and to get to be his mum; I am most thankful for that privilege, and he makes it so easy.

And I am also thankful for my amazing husband. He who finds my lost keys, tapes up my frayed phone charger so it is safe, brings me a cheeseboard and an artfully sliced milky way for supper when I couldn't decide what I wanted, changes endless nappies, lets me lie in on holiday to try and recuperate, sorts out my car insurance, transfers our broadband, switches all of our devices over to the new router and who generally makes this little family work.

I realise it has been a little saccharine this week, so I hope you survived all of that without feeling too nauseated, but after feeling really miserable last weekend and crying to The Husband that I just needed to remember that we would all feel better eventually (slightly melodramatic perhaps?) I'm celebrating the fact that I was right, and that this weekend should be a much healthier, happier one! Thank you, also, to all of you who have visited, and commented, it is always very much appreciated.

The Reading Residence

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

wonderful wednesday #3

There have been all sorts of wonderful things this week so let's get straight on with them.

Happy Holidays: We had a lovely few days away, which was a fabulous Christmas present from my parents. It was our first stay in a hotel with a baby, and it went better than we could have hoped. I am grateful for the kind, welcoming staff, all of whom went out of their way to make life easier, from giving us a large room so that the pram, toys, and various accoutrements of a small baby didn't take up every corner, to seating us in a quiet corner of the restaurant which meant we had two evenings where we managed to have a three course meal while he dozed quietly beside us. A member of staff at breakfast brought over my plate, and asked if she could cuddle the baby, and sat with us, held him and chatted while we both ate. We couldn't have asked for a better experience, and it was lovely to have an extra few days altogether.

Feeling Better: After a few days where it felt like the household had been condemned with the lurgy, things are gradually looking up. The baby (I really need to decide what I'm going to call him on the blog) can now sleep without waking himself up with coughing, and I can move around without leaving a trail of used tissues in my wake. Life suddenly feels much more manageable now that the germs are retreating.

Spa Time: While we were away we used the leisure facilities, which meant lots of family swimming. Having The Husband with me was a revelation, he took the baby in the changing rooms with him, and having two adults in the pool with him meant I actually got to swim a few laps and nip in the steam room, and the sauna, and get changed without signing nursery rhymes the whole time. I love taking the baby swimming, but taking the baby swimming with The Husband was an added bonus! It was also lovely for The Husband to get the chance to go swimming with him for the first time, even if he did manage to get far more giggles than I ever have! I also booked in for a massage, and it was one of the best treatments I have had in a very long time, the therapist was brilliant, and I sat in a dressing gown afterwards, sipping a hot chocolate and feeling very relaxed indeed, it's amazing what a difference an hour can make.

Family Gatherings: We had a family christening at the weekend, and it was lovely to see relatives we hadn't seen in a while. Today was the 10 year anniversary of when my Gran passed away, and we try to mark the day in a positive way by getting together as a family. We went out for lunch, everyone got baby cuddles and it was a lovely way to commemorate an incredibly special person.

Good Books: I finished the brilliant book by Hollie McNish that I can't stop raving about to everyone and immediately handed it to The Husband. I then did that irritating thing of peering over his shoulder as he was trying to read it, desperate to keep track of where he was up to so I could finally have someone to discuss it with. Luckily the next book I started, Bill Bryson's latest, is also brilliant, so it distracted me away from peering over his shoulder, and instead I did the equally irritating thing of chortling loudly every couple of minutes and insisting on reading out whole pages while The Husband was trying to read. I'm looking back and wondering if this week was slightly more wonderful for me than him!

It is wonderful to have had such good family times this week, and also wonderful for us all to be feeling well again. I hope you all have great weeks ahead.

If you would like to visit some of the others (highly recommended) then Sally is the originator of the idea, you can search for #wonderfulwednesday and these lovely folks all post too: JoHelenMichelleSarahKateCatSamEl , KerriMimmiMartinaIsabelle.

Friday, January 13, 2017

word of the week

As I mentioned last week, a weekend full of re-organisation beckoned, and it was a fruitful one. After an early morning trip to Ikea (helped by the lure of a cooked breakfast after a very early wake up courtesy of the baby) we stocked up on storage and got sorting high and low. I will stop wittering on about it, as I also mentioned it at length here but it has really made such a difference. I feel so much better when I open the wardrobe or the kitchen cupboards and everything just seems a little more under control.

Which has been much needed this week, as we have had a baby who has been full of a cough and cold, that I have now started with too. It has been a testing week, our first experience as parents of having a poorly child, but I think we have kept each other sane. The Husband got home last night and went out with the baby for an hour, so I went to bed at 7pm and caught up on some much needed sleep, and felt much better for it. We had a better night last night too, less disturbed, and hopefully before long we will all be feeling well again.

I have tried to be better at blogging too, and I actually wrote a post this week that wasn't part of a link up, which is novel for me. I also joined in with #1day12pics over on instagram, so I feel like in small ways I'm managing to carve a little time out. I'm currently writing this with the laptop balanced on my kneecaps and a baby snoring on my chest!

My running had been getting better too, I was consistently managing less than 15 minute miles, and actually enjoying getting out. This week it has slipped, and I haven't got out with the exception of a quick walk to the library and back for baby group on Monday. I'm trying to be kind to myself and accept that it just isn't a priority this week, but I'm also conscious of making sure I don't get out of the habit for too long and lose my progress.

We have a few days away next week, so if we are not better by then, then I'm sure a few lazy days together relaxing, visiting the spa, and enjoying some extra family time will see us right. Hope you all have a lovely weekend.

The Reading Residence

Thursday, January 12, 2017

take a holiday

For so many months, the prospect of being on maternity leave glowed in the distance, bringing with it the promise of a new baby, and the exciting, but daunting concept of an extended break from my job. The idea, now, of going back to work, is a hard one to fathom, and though I am lucky enough to have a long time before that happens, I know the months will fly, and the fact that we have already had to start looking at nurseries (9 months in advance, seriously!) has brought it home that this current arrangement isn't a permanent one. So, I'm very conscious of making the most of this time, really appreciating how lucky I am to be able to be at home with my little boy, what a privilege it is.

But then, yesterday, I had an appointment, and when I mentioned to the nurse that I was on maternity leave, she said "Oh that's what I could do with, a holiday". It was a reflexive response, she didn't mean any harm by it, and she was really pleasant and chatty. I got on well with her, but the comment has stuck. It was said so quickly, such a throwaway remark that I didn't even respond before we'd moved on to the next point, and besides which, as she was about to do my smear, it wasn't really the right time to have a heated debate about the reality of maternity leave!

Maybe it's because it's been a particularly tough week. My little boy has had a cough, quite a bad one, the cough til he's sick all over himself, and me, and any surrounding surfaces type of cough. I have spent a lot of the last few days sat on the sofa, beneath a sleeping baby, which I agree sounds like bliss. But that sleeping baby kept waking, and crying, and looking at me with eyes that didn't understand why he was hurting, and a bottom lip quivering that I couldn't make better. He kept coughing himself awake overnight, we have had multiple outfit changes (him, me, The Husband) at all hours of the morning, and I have sung whole concerts in the darkness, standing, swaying with my eyes closed trying to soothe his eyes closed. My hand is constantly reaching for his forehead, hunting out the first signs of a temperature, and I am on a repeating cycle of holding him, soothing him, and feeding him, anything as long as I am there for him.

Yesterday, my parents called by and watched him so I could shower without the fear that he was coughing himself sick alone. They stayed while I had a drink and had something to eat. The day before, he would not be put down without crying so lunch was anything I could manage one handed, which turned out to be slices of ham straight from the fridge and biscuits which I stashed in my cardigan pocket. The Husband does bath time each night so I can have a quick rest, yet my ears are always searching for his cries.

Maybe its because the appointment was the first time I'd left the house in 2 days, the first time I'd not been in the same building as my baby for 3 days, and even that was to do a 20 minute run around the block, but it just stung a little. I knew what she meant, that having an extended break from the day job is what lots of people dream of. Honestly, I was excited about that too, and I still appreciate being able to break off from my career for a while yet know I can return to it. I know lots of people would be dealing with a poorly baby and trying to work full time (The Husband for one!). I know that in between the tears, the coughing, the outfit changes, trying to assess how much of a wet nappy is enough of a wet nappy, how much of a wheeze is too much of a wheeze, it is still bliss to sit holding him, snuggled under a blanket, the rise and fall of his chest against mine, his warm breath on my skin.

But this week particularly has not been a holiday. It has been sad, and tiring, and worrisome. And as I lay there last night, rehearsing what I should have said, trying to think up a pithy reply that would have been light hearted but made a point, I remembered something I read on an instagram post this week about sharing the rubbish stuff because usually someone out there understands, or is going through the same thing. So I started writing and thought this was probably a better way to vent than to have imaginary discussions.

As it is, we actually do have a holiday next week. The Husband is off work, and our parents booked a few days away for the three of us. Obviously it won't be a holiday from maternity leave, the parenting doesn't stop, but it will be lovely to do the parenting while someone else cooks the meals and makes the bed, and to have a few extra days as a family. And, when I was at the GPs today (making sure his wheeze wasn't too much of a wheeze) the nurse walked across the waiting room as I was leaving. She asked was everything OK, looked at my poorly, runny nosed baby and said he was gorgeous. I think from my scraped back hair, and weary eyes she could perhaps see that I wasn't having the easiest day, and she managed to make me feel better, as did the GP, by taking a little bit of time, and showing some kindness. And of course someone admiring my little boy always gives me that glow of maternal pride, so I left feeling much happier, and without any more one-sided conversations playing in my head!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

wonderful wednesday #2

So I've made it 2/2 so far and am taking a few minutes to round up some more wonderfulness (is that a word?). We've got a baby with a bad cough at the moment so sleep is a little elusive.  It's the first time he's been poorly and I'm having a little bit of heartbreak seeing him sad, so this burst of positivity is much needed!

Maternity leaveI'm really appreciative of the fact that I can be at home cuddling him and trying my best to make him feel better. We spent yesterday snuggled up on the sofa with lots of naps, though there's no doubts a rule to say he shouldn't be napping all day (I'm discovering parenting has lots of rules, particularly when it comes to sleep). As it is, I know if I was poorly I'd want to spend the day napping on the sofa so I'm enjoying the chance to curl up with him and hold him close. Today he seems a lot a brighter so I'm hoping the extra rest did him some good. I never underestimate how lucky I am to have the time to be home with him at the moment. Soon enough I'll be back to work, so these precious days, and the chance to help him feel better, are very special indeed. 

Organisation: I lived up to the promise of last week, and thanks to the energy and perseverance of The Husband we made the most of the weekend and sorted cupboards, drawers and wardrobes like a couple possessed. It was so good to get my wardrobe reorganised, it had become a mishmash of clothes, some from before I got pregnant, some of those "I'll buy this for when I'm a size smaller" clothes, some maternity clothes, some postpregnancy purchases and a myriad of other things, but I was cycling through about five things at one end of the rail. I got ruthless and now have a wardrobe that makes me very happy when I open it. I've already worn two tops this week I haven't seen in months. We have a new cutlery drawer, new spice racks, reorganised kitchen cupboards, and though the house is still covered in baby paraphernalia I feel like the superficial stuff is much easier to tackle now we are more organised under the surface.

Sunday dinner: I invited Grandad over on Sunday, and made us toad in the hole, onion gravy and something vaguely resembling bubble and squeak. It was lovely to cook us a meal and enjoy his company, and for him to get cuddles with his great-grandson.

#1day12pics: I took part in this over on instagram as part of the first week of A Year With My Camera, and although I used my phone, it was good to take some more photos, and to try and be a little more creative. The project is about getting better at using my real camera, so I do need to try and actually use it, baby steps though!

The Husband: Not that he isn't usually brilliant, but he's been particularly amazing these last few days. As well as giving up his weekend to help me sort through my wardrobes and put up spice racks etc., he has been doing mountains of ironing, keeping the house relatively tidy, and generally doing the lion's share of the work around the house, after working long days, to try and give me a little space to get out on a run, or cook a meal, or write this blog (he did bathtime and read a story while I write this!). It's good to feel like this parenting lark is a team effort.

Dog snores: we bought Millie a blanket from Ikea (I'm honestly not on commission, I just think it's my spiritual home) so that now we are spending much more time in the lounge, she isn't relegated to the floor. She is currently outstretched on her new blanket, feet resting against me, nose twitching as though she is smelling something brilliant in her dreams, and snoring contentedly.

So it appears there has been lots of good stuff despite the poorly baby, I'm already seeing the benefit of this weekly round up of happy things. Here's to a lovely week ahead for you all. 

If you would like to visit some of the others (highly recommended) then Sally is the originator of the idea, you can search for #wonderfulwednesday and these lovely folks all post too: JoHelenMichelleSarahKateCatSamEl , KerriMimmiMartinaIsabelle.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

word of the week

This is my first word of the week post for quite a long time now, can you tell I am full of New Year energy with the sudden influx of posts on the blog. I decided to make it easier on myself and include my word electronically rather than hand draw it, however after half an hour of trying to work out how to produce a word as an image, find the consistent font and colour to match the blog, and then find a format that would upload it without a line running across the top of the image, I'm thinking a spot of calligraphy may have been easier!

So, although this week is obviously full of new beginnings, there is a sense, also, of things coming back around. The house is returning to normal, with decorations down, gifts put away, and a return to simpler, less indulgent food. The Husband was in work between Christmas and New Year, but the return back this week truly marks the end of the festivities and life regaining its usual rhythm.

A return, for me, in the last week to some old habits. I'm trying to find more time for blogging, for the occasional burst of calligraphy, for cooking, and reading. It is starting to feel like balance is creeping back in, and after this post, I sense that I am managing to enjoy some of those things that I had lost touch with in recent months.

I've also returned to the A Year With My Camera project. I joined in a little haphazardly at the start of last year, but never got beyond snapping with my phone, and reading the emails. This year I've put the proper camera on charge, which I'm seeing as a first positive step, and I'm also trying to encourage my mum to join too, in the hope that a bit of teamwork will keep me more accountable!

I think we will shortly be returning to Ikea too. Having gone on a spree last night getting lots of storage and organisers for various parts of the house, we have got the bug, and are spotting a few other places where a little organisation would help. I'm not sure if it's the New Year, or having spent so long in maternity clothes and now having to tactically pick clothes suitable for feeding the baby, but I've definitely got the urge to purge my wardrobes and return some calm and order to the rails.

Hope you all have a great week.

The Reading Residence

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

wonderful wednesday

Having very much enjoyed Michelle's wonderful wednesday posts in 2016 I thought I'd try my hand at joining in with Sally's project. It seems like a good idea to make an effort to take stock of the good stuff so here I go!

Reading: generally just getting round to picking up books for the first time in ages, being on my second since the new year, but particularly my current one, Nobody Told Me by Hollie McNish, a brilliant Christmas gift. I think I'll be telling everyone I meet about it, I'm trying to read it as quickly as possible so I can pass it on to someone and then bend their ear off about it. It is as though someone has written down my every thought about being a new mum in a far more witty and eloquent way than I ever could.

Cooking: or at least planning to. I'm just starting to get back into the habit of cooking again. I figure if we can manage Christmas dinner for seven I can manage to try a few recipes here and there and hopefully I'll be able to join back in with Penny's project again this year after a few months hiatus.

Hardy herbs: on a related note, I found a recipe I wanted to try and realised that the only ingredient I didn't have was parsley. Having long ago planted some herb pots that have been neglected for months I found that the parsley and chives were still alive and happily growing in the corner of the garden. I haven't made the recipe yet but I'm guessing if they've lasted this long they'll make it for a few more days.

Winter sun: the above picture was taken on a walk to the park today. It was a beautiful clear day, and it was lovely to get out in the fresh air with the pram (and the baby too of course!).

Ikea hauls: some people's idea of hell, I realise, but The Husband uttered those magic words "I'm thinking of rearranging the storage in some of the cupboards" and I couldn't get him there quickly enough. Hurrah for compartments and boxes and storage tubs and spice racks for the cupboard door and hangers that hold scarves, ties and belts, and candles, always a packet of candles. I resisted the gigantic bag of Daim bars though that may have been an error in retrospect.

I shall leave it there for my first attempt, but if you would like to visit some of the others (highly recommended) then Sally is the originator of the idea, you can search for #wonderfulwednesday and these lovely folks all post too: Jo, Helen, Michelle, Sarah, Kate, Cat, Sam, El , Kerri, Mimmi, Martina, Isabelle.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

first things first

The first of January.

The first day of the month, and also of a whole new year. Happy New Year to you all, and wishing you all a lovely 2017.

Today I did my first run of a total of 500 miles I plan to run over the year. Only 498 to go! It was very wet, and Millie was far more enthusiastic on the mile back towards home than she was on the way out. Although the first day of the year is obviously an added motivation for starting good habits, this has been a gradual rediscovery of running over the last few months.  My sister-in-law runs a facebook group where she organises virtual runs to raise money for charity, and she was kind enough to let me join in back in October even though I was doing more of a shuffle with the pram and the dog. Since then I've discovered that the promise of a medal has proved excellent motivation, and completed a marathon in October (not all at once, but over the month!), 11 miles in 11 days in November, and in December I did a minimum of a mile a day in the 12 days leading up to Christmas, ending with a 5k on Christmas Eve. I've now signed up to do 500 miles over the year, and 62 miles in January. I'm still pretty slow but I've gradually built up to a gentle jog, and The Husband kindly bought me a fancy running watch for Christmas which is a joy to use, having spent the last few months wafting my phone around in the air as I went, trying, and failing, to get it to accurately track my route.

I have also read my first book in months. The Husband bought me a few for Christmas, and while he was out with a friend on Friday, I found myself with a quiet hour, where the baby was asleep, the house was calm, and I made a cup of tea, and had a mince pie and got lost in a book. It is a really enjoyable read, and it is lovely to be engrossed in a story again.

We had a productive last day of the year, I did my traditional re-organising of my make up, making space for the Estee Lauder gift set my parents kindly gave me. I also happily did my annual update of my diary, putting the new pages in my filofax (I am old school and proud!) and throwing out last year's pages. Today I will start this diary for the fourth year. That isn't a sponsored link I just love that diary so much, and I think everyone should have one. It is the only diary I have managed to keep for a full year (now three years!) and it has been great to be able to read what was happening in our lives in previous years. It made the run up to Christmas extra special, remembering those first few weeks of pregnancy, the uncertainty, the worry, the hope and seeing in front of me our amazing little boy, here safe and well.

That, perhaps, has been the biggest thing I have learnt from being his mum. I spent the pregnancy so worried, so convinced something would go wrong. As the weeks went by my imagination lurched from one possible problem to another. Even in the delivery room I remember telling the midwife I still didn't believe he was going to get here safely, couldn't comprehend that all would be fine. And then there he was, beautiful eyes wide open, filling the room with noise, and life, no question that he was very definitely here, ready for this world, and entirely well. And I realised that life, sometimes, turns out exactly how you hope it will, that worrying had been for nothing, and that it doesn't do any harm to hope for the best instead of imagining the worst. So that is what I shall take into the New Year, as I see him grinning at me while he sits on his daddy's knee, that this little boy has shown me that good things, the best things, do happen.

In that spirit, having never shared a picture of myself before, convinced that being anything other than anonymous could somehow lead to problems and disaster, I'm changing that too. It has been a long time coming, and even longer when you try to find a nice picture of yourself when you've recently had a baby and are simultaneously trying to grow out a pixie haircut, but here we go, another first.

Lovely to meet you, I'm Katie!