Monday, 31 December 2012

13 in '13

Following on from a dismal effort at my 2012 resolutions, yet inspired by Her Pretty's 13 for '13 I thought I'd have yet another go at setting some new year's resolutions as part of Mummy Mishaps theme for the BritMums carnival.

To be honest, I'm happy with anything which focuses the mind, and I'm hoping this just might for 2013:

1. Listen to more music. I started at the end of 2012 carrying headphones with me when travelling to listen on my phone. I'm going to do this more next year, and hopefully post on a monthly basis as a reminder of my favourite tracks.

2. Baking. Squeaks and I came a long way in 2012! Hopefully 2013 might end with us creating a perfect yule log and maybe a Christmas cake.

3. The Advent Activity Calender. We gave this a go in 2012, in 2013 I'm hoping we'll be a little bit more realistic (plan in for bugs and illnesses) and make it achievable.

4. Routine. The boys will be old enough for pre-school this year and Squeaks will go from nursery school to 'proper' school (across the playground!) in September. I'd like to make all the transitions as easy as possible, especially for the boys who current;y have such a good routine. And maybe think about adding another after-school hobby for Squeaks alongside swimming.

5. Work-life balance. I need to take better care of me this year, and not overdo it at work at a cost to my family time or health. I'm hoping to hand my diary over to the lovely Lorraine to manage, and hoping she'll be a loveable rottweiller as she manages my inflexibility!

6. Career plan. I'd like one. Please.I'd like to spend some time this year figuring out what I want to do, what I enjoy, and whether my perfect job exists. I suspect the outcome will need to wait a while. I think maybe when all the little people are in school and Mr J can get a job again that I might retrain... but just a ray of hope would be enough for now.

7. Making the most of London. So in the meanwhile, my weekly overnight's in London need to be more meaningful. Even if it's just getting out with a camera, or maybe once a month a trip to the West End for a show... that would make nights away a little more bearable!

8. Photography. I'd like to do Project 365/ 52 again this year. Focus more on the photography as well as capturing memories.

9. Create a memory wall. One on my home wishlist but to sort my favourite photos of 2012 and get them printed.

10. To create children's bedrooms for the little people. To move the boys into toddler beds, and then into the larger bedroom (maybe with a pirate theme) and to create a new bedroom for Squeaks with a new bed of her liking (so she'll stay in it at night!).

11. To learn to crochet (without my mum knowing!). My mum is the most amazing seamstress, knitter, cross stitcher, decoupager... the list goes on. But she doesn't crochet. I wound her up when Squeaks was little with all the crochet items I chose from her endless booklets (not realising they were crochet!). I would like to learn to crochet as it seems something which can travel, and may just become something I'm capable of!

12. The blog. How could this be so far down the list? I need to give it some TLC. Both content and presentation. And more so I need to get better (less lazy) with commenting. I love to read blogs but flit, I need to pause for commenting!

13. Keep the family happy and healthy. Ok, I was saving the most important two 'til last! We all need to spend more time together, getting out and about, and keeping evil lurgies at bay! Fingers crossed!!

Two... become three... become five.. but need to remain two?

Sometimes, in blog world, and in the real world, everyone has the ability to take you into a world of perfection.

And you begin to think that yours is the only relationship which is as likely to have moments of peace and harmony, as turmoil and anger.

Many, many years ago I can recall a conversation where one friend didn't like her relationship as her other half was too placid, and the other because it was too fraught with arguments. There is that balance a relationship needs which plays to the strengths and needs of both individuals.

When I met Mr J we erred in the category of too placid, it wouldn't remain the case. We would row, and badly on occasion, but as my motto with relationships- the good times outweighed the bad times.
When Squeaks arrived in 2009 life became a balance of good times and bad times. We both loved our daughter immeasurably, but I struggled with motherhood and Mr J and I struggled with how our new relationship worked.
There is nothing to me which can throw out a relationship between two people more than throwing a third person into the equation. The complexity in having a child together is that there is no choosing, that that third person is so much the integral link in your lives that there can only be a way forward.

We did know at the end of everything that we would make it work.
We planned our wedding and also our plans to have another child.
On May 21st 2010 we were married at a mill in Yorkshire (the compromise of running away to sunnier climes).
In June 2010 we 'found' we were pregnant.
In July 2010 we discovered we were pregnant with twins.

In my memory being pregnant is a time of harmony, I'm not sure if this is rose-tinted spectacles or truth- that you spend your time planning the future that any problems in the present are forgotten.
When the boys arrived in January 2011 life was far from easy.
Mr J returned to work after 18months as a SAHD, I became a SAHM to three under-2's.

We both lived each others stresses- his of work, mine of sleep deprivation and parenting.

Fortunately, I guess, things were brought to a head with Tiny's admittance to hospital at ten weeks, and the realisation that we needed a family support network.

And then of course, like pregnancy, a new distraction became apparent- 'Operation: House Move'. There were probably rows in the months that followed but they could be put down to the stress of moving house, swapping roles as I went back to work and Mr J reverted to SAHD, and being a parent to three.

In October 2011 we moved to South Wales. And life, to me, seemed to even out. Routines were established and settled into, life took an even keel.

But 2012 has definitely been our most difficult year.
Do I think future years will be any easier?
To be honest, I really don't know.
I can't put our arguments down to anything other than a lack of communication, a lack of time as a couple, and a family struggling with the pressures of life- no different in many ways to everyone else's, but more important to us as it is ours.

I underestimated, of course, how difficult life would be for Mr J. Giving up his home of 40 years for an easier family life will always look good on paper, but is difficult nonetheless.
Constantly struggling to find a balance as a working mum has not been easy on anyone. Throw in nights away on a weekly basis, and more time away from my family, and more reliance on my parents.
And moving his mum down from Yorkshire so he is not worrying about her, but dealing instead with the house move, that battered our patience a year earlier and that was our home.

I have my moments where I think life would be better without him.
That from a practical point of view I could organise everything and give my children enough love...

.... And then that horrible reality kicks in, that I need his love and support, so I can be strong enough to be a good parent and have the strength to work knowing he is being the parent my children need.

Life really is no different to what it was before children, we cannot afford to be complacent, we have to have a relationship as a couple, as well as one as parents to our children, and we have to have a family unit which functions through love and happiness.

Somedays, when we are all working at it, it is the most perfect it can be.
Sometimes, it is a distant memory.
But as always, the times it remains within my grasp outweighs the times I can't quite reach it.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

2012- Our year that was!

As I wrote my Week 52 post it was amazing to think how far the family have come this year. We've got through some difficult times, and enjoyed the good times.

So, here are my favourite pictures of 2012 as a quick summary!

January 1st, after seeing in the New Year child free we popped to Barry Island with friends to get rid of any remaining hangovers before collecting the little people.

We discovered the Knap as a family and fed the ducks and swans:

The boys celebrated their 1st birthday (and mummy and daddy patted themselves on the back for surviving!):

 Squeaks had her first St David's Day in Wales.

We went to Barry Island as a family and I got a cover picture.

The boys showed daddy that they too like squash.

Squeaks celebrated her 3rd birthday at Peppa Pig World

 I celebrated the boys 18mth check up where they were only 1oz apart in weight.

The boys enjoyed a ride in mummy's convertible (it's going to be a long time for the next ride, the car went in favour of a car which fits the family).

We had a happy Easter.

The children enjoyed the garden.

 Squeaks enjoyed her trips to the theatre:

 The boys decided to start walking. 

  Squeaks enjoyed the Jubilee.

And showed how independent she was becoming.

The boys developed their independent appetites

Squeaks' obsession with Mickey continued.

And learned to fly a kite.

The boys became confident at walking, very quickly.

Squeaks rode Mr Chips on Brean Beach.

Started school.

And dressing up as a pirate for birthday parties.

Cheeky treated us to our first visit to A&E.

 We celebrated Hallow'een.

And went on our first family holiday.

Squeaks helped mummy get the house ready for Christmas.

And 'star'red in her first Nativity.

We all went to visit the big man.

And mummy got a special treat thanks to +Sarah Anguish

And we got a lovely picture showing how much our three have grown this year

PS this was 2011:

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Project #366 - Week 52

So, I guess we made it! We had a few trips and stumbles along the way, but here we are, week 52... and life is very different to 52 weeks ago- just look those walking talking 'babies'!

So, first things first, a big thank you to The Boy And Me, for putting up with us all this year, maintaining momentum and enthusiasm- with the added bonus of a Advent Activity Calender!

Will we do it again? Definitely! I will attempt to be a bit more pure next year- there may have been snaps the other half has taken (the rebellion!)- but in the last few weeks I've been exploring London with work and maybe I'd enjoy my trips away more if there was more me time-so there's a resolution!

But anyhow! As to week 52, here we go:

Sunday: Squeaks and Daddy playing peek-a-boo.
Monday: Cheeky worried about the state he got into whilst baking gingerbread!
Tuesday: Tiny enjoying his gift from Santa.
Wednesday: My favourite photo of the week- Tiny is by clingiest child, and yet the one who has been taken most with Uncle Chris (whilst Squeaks used to just scream and cry).
Thursday: Mr J and I wondered how we managed to lie in till 1030, only we found three children in the boys room- cots stripped bare, sudocrem every where. Lesson learned.
Friday: If I have achieved nothing the Christmas I have nurtured a love of Toy Story in all my children. My work here is done!
Saturday: Showing off her talent for making cakes!

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Christmas is... #17 A gingerbread house

So, you're going to have to bear with me! For illness related reasons we were going right 'til the last minute to finish some of our Christmas preparations (and some of them need to be carried over to 2013!).

Our gingerbread house though is one which cannot wait. Simply because it makes me whoop with achievement.
If you had told me going into 2012 I would manage this, well, laughter still prevails.
And as for Lakeland making its way into my top ten shops....

But here you have it:

So, this turned out to be a labour of love, and/or just determination.
I thought it was great that we could make it over a few days, but then I had such a sense of achievement when the thing actually stuck together and stood independently that I hoped that could be it.
But no, someone had to suggest wanting to see the finished product (like the thing standing wasn't actually it!) and I felt the pressure of needing to put decorations on my cake.

So, as seems to be my new standard, on a Christmas shopping expedition with my mum at the beginning of December I invested in a gingerbread house mould from Lakeland (and in getting this link to include I have been slightly distracted by the Lakeland sale!!!).

And the great thing about the mould is that it also comes with a recipe and instructions (you can clearly understand my limitations, can't you?)
Now this was a completely different recipe to our making of gingerbread men, and having become a connoisseur of gingerbread (something I only ever thought I'd say about products containing alcohol) I think this recipe was more of the 'bread' than the crunch, but maybe that's just the way I roll.

As always Squeaks was ready to get stuck in, although her obsession was with collecting flour to act as a 'blanket' for the gingerbread man.
As we had made the gingerbread after school one day we waited a few days before assembling the house.
I *may* have put the highchair out as a known trap for Squeaks so she could feel she was playing a part in the assembly process.
As I went to the kitchen to whisk the royal icing Squeaks *may* have got her revenge.
Note the picture on the top right, where the Christmas tree has gone to bed, and the gingerbread man is settling down to tea at the table... please note his tea has been broken off the gingerbread roof.
Hmmmm, the familiar feeling of wanting to shout but unable to defy such logic...
And so, with a sigh of defiance and defeat I began to assemble the house (please note the sigh of defeat was in thinking this was never going to happen as all recipes for royal icing include cream of tartar which completely evades my shopping prowess).

Imagine my shock, and elation, when the thing decided it would remain standing!
Which of  course made me love Lakeland a little bit more!

But, the feeling of pressure to decorate ate at me, until on Christmas Eve, when Squeaks was feeling a little better (you know when Squeaks is feeling better because she decides she can wear my t-shirts for pyjamas), I coaxed her and Cheeky to make more gingerbread men (using original recipe) and to help decorate the house (again royal icing without the tartar).

As it turns out Cheeky is a natural in the kitchen. And as ever, Squeaks came over the protective big sister.

But we ended up with a complete gingerbread house, some festive snowflakes and Christmas trees.
And exhaustion all round!

This post is dedicated to Sharon Brown- have you any idea on the pressure you put me under? xx

Thursday, 27 December 2012

So, there it was... Merry Christmas!

... And I do believe, everybody had fun!

I can't believe I'm loving Christmas more than ever, having children is seriously underrated where a love of Christmas is concerned!

The Christmas Eve cakes made by Squeaks were devoured by the boys:
And, whilst I have always appreciated the convenience of wet wipes, after this level of chocolate only the washing machine and a bath could help.

The traditional Christmas Eve pyjamas were a hit (the luck of being in town the same Saturday as Debenhams had 1/2 price on kids nightwear).

And so, Christmas Day dawned, and I realised that what I especially love about the Johnson babies is their love of sleep, there's none of the traumas I gave my mum (thankfully!) of getting up at 3am to open presents, no, no matter how much excitement there was at bedtime on Christmas Eve they still needed to be reminded when they woke at 9am on Christmas Day that there was a possibility that the big man had visited overnight!

And so, the Johnson's did Christmas.

Fortunately Squeaks appreciated the present she said she wanted more than anything in November, but no longer wanted in December.
And she loves him so much he is accompanying her everywhere.

We went outside as the footprints left by Santa led that way- admittedly Squeaks thought this was because a reindeer had been left behind (and Cheeky was refusing to part with a tub of dinosaurs!):
But, they found the present built by elves and Grandma and Grampy (the compromise for spoiling my children- one present for the year covering Christmas and birthdays).

They loved it, so much so that Squeaks wanted to sleep in it Christmas night:

Everyone loved their bikes, a last minute purchase, given Squeaks had decided in late November that rather than the Mickey Mouse she had set her heart on, Center Parcs had converted her, and she would now like a bike (with a bell) more than anything.

And when 'Santa' had popped into Halfords to sort it out (whilst putting back Squeaks' other presents for her birthday), that maybe they had baby blue bikes on such a good offer that Santa had also put back the boys presents too...

And so, alongside their bikes, the boys loved their equivalents that Squeaks had decided upon for them

Cheeky wasn't so interested in watching Daddy opening his presents, the tub of dinasaurs was far too compulsive:

Christmas Day continued 'well'.
Maybe, just maybe, whilst we were outside discovering the playhouse the house alarm started going off.
And maybe, I didn't realise it was ours for a little while.
And maybe, after quite a few minutes I reset the fuse box and the alarm.
And maybe an hour or so later I realised the oven was cooling.

And clicked, that the reason the power had cut out was because the oven had.
And this of course would be the first year that Mr J had bought a turkey rather than beef or a turkey crown...

And so, the Christmas buffet that we had promised my parents and his mum that evening turned into a very late Christmas dinner.... which, of course, everyone loved.

And the children were spoilt a little bit more by their grandparents.
And went to bed exhausted.

And Boxing Day led to more exhaustion as they caught up with their cousins at my parents.
And Tiny surprised me, that whilst he is so clingy, that he was so happy with Uncle Chris. Despite Squeaks having been so wary of him as a baby.

And, despite the rain, the boys had chance to try out the scramblebugs from Nana Windows which have been a massive hit (indoors and outdoors).

And so, the Johnson Babies have been spoilt.

And what have we learned:

Cheeky loves to unwrap presents, meticulously, with no care for the contents.
Tiny, like Squeaks in the past, bores of opening presents, and is happy to play with the toys he has.
Squeaks loves to share, whether that be sharing opening her presents, or her sharing opening yours.

And we hope,like ours, yours was a Merry Christmas!

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