Friday round up

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Harrods, just around the corner from where we are staying 🙂

Here we are, back to the routine of end of the week blogging. Phew.

We have spent the last week enjoying London with the American family of husbandface. It has been a wonderful break from the norms of life, from routine and from the exhaustion that had set in. It has been brilliant to hang out together and share the craziness of life. It hasn’t been perfect, the boys have struggled a bit away from home and husbandface has struggled with wanting to do more than he can manage. Despite all that we have had lots of fun and I’ve really valued other people taking the boys away at intervals, the presence of my lovely parents for a day, meeting for coffee with someone in a similar situation and hanging out with a couple of excellent friends throughout the week. It’s been a week that has felt spacious and light.

We really haven’t done many of the ‘London’ things which Maisy seems to fit into one day in the classic ‘Maisy goes to London’ book. We didn’t do the Zoo, the Aquarium, the London Eye, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace or even the new Lego shop. We managed one day out in the centre on the South Bank and the Duck Tour but that was enough for our highly stimulated boys. It was good to get a sense of having seen lots of London but then to retreat to our little corner of Knightsbridge and Hyde Park. We did wander briefly through the Natural History Museum and this morning the excellent Americans took the boys to the Science Museum. I think that’s probably enough tourist things for a week. Slow and steady works for us all right now. This afternoon we plan on boating on the Serpentine and maybe more ice cream.

We have all loved having Hyde Park on our doorstep. It has provided the chance for son1 to scoot in non hilly places, the benefits of lots of green space and the lovely Diana Memorial Fountain to splash in. I’ve enjoyed running through the park on various mornings and glimpsing the horse guard parade from a distance as I’ve pounded around the paths.

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The later half of the week has brought the beginning of 30 Days of Wild. All through June we are blogging about our month of getting out into the outdoors more over on our motorhoming adventure blog. Here’s a taste of our first day.

Today marked the beginning of our adventures with #30daysofwild. We are currently staying the week in London with friends who are family. I thought this lovely location might be a slight damper on our search for wild but with Hyde Park on our doorstep it’s been good to think about searching for urban wild.

This morning we headed to the Diana Memorial Fountain, a beautiful park within the park with a rushing circular fountain for people to paddle in. It does a pretty good imitation of a mountain stream with multi levels and textures under foot. The boys loved it, apart from the times Son2 thought that maybe he was getting too wet. Anyway, it was wonderful to get barefoot in the capital, feel cool cool water on our legs and soft green grass beneath our feet.

Tomorrow we head home, back to reality and routine. I think I’m ready to plunge into the next two months of life before heading out on our road trip adventure.

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Dear friend, so you’re about to become a Mum…

Dear lovely one. 

Wow. You are about to become a Mum. That reality you’ve ached for over so many years. A Mum. Responsible for a tiny life, her hand in yours. 

I wish I could prepare you for what is about to happen. There really is no way. For the wonder, the joy, the insanity, the pain, the sleep deprivation, the life changes, the anger, the frustration and the love.  Oh the love. 

Like an explosion your world as you’ve known it for years is about to get ripped apart. It’s ok to feel shock, it’s ok to feel overwhelmed. It’s ok to feel like you’re coping really well and were born to do this. It’s ok to feel anger like you’ve never known. It’s ok to burn inside with love for this tiny person who has invaded your world. It’s ok to want to throw her in the bin (metaphorically that is… If you find yourself actually walking towards the bin maybe call a friend eh.). It’s ok to be utterly undone and it’s ok to soar on the wonder of love. It’s ok to cry deep into the middle of the night and wonder why on earth you thought this would be a good idea. It’s ok to moan about how hard it all is. It’s ok to find it fun and delightful. It’s ok to feel smug about getting to hang out in parks all day in the sunny sun. It’s ok to get mind numbingly bored and it’s ok to be lonely. It’s ok to feel and feel some more. 

You may find yourself feeling all of those things over 5 minutes of time. That’s ok too. This world of being a Mum is the most insane rollercoaster I’ve ever been on. You are not alone. You are not alone. You may feel alone but you are not. Your village is around you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t fear finding it hard because you are finally getting what you’ve always wanted. It’s ok to get all you have desired and find it enormously overwhelming. And it’s ok when you love it too.  It’s ok to say you love it and not worry too much about your old self who struggled with people who were loving it at times. 

The world will want to throw advice at you. Go with what fits with your values as a person and ditch the rest. People parent differently and it’s ok to do it differently from your best friends. It’ll be a fine art to learn those tricky conversations around how you manage sleep and eating and all the rest of the things people think they have the answers to but it’ll be worth it. You’ll all appreciate each other more. Find a couple of people who do things the same way and know you aren’t alone, but enjoy the different approaches people have. Parenting is way too full of silly tribes around the ‘right’ method. Go with your gut, try some stuff out and it’ll work out in the end. 

I know your circumstances are entirely different from mine, I know there will be challenges and joys that I will never have faced or will have to face. I know we are all so uniquely and wonderfully different but I’m betting there is a lot of overlap in the universal woah of becoming a parent for the first time, however that has happened.

The reality is there is nothing I can say to prepare you. This is one path you’ll step onto alone but as you step you’ll realise that there are hundreds and thousands out there who’ve also taken that first step and who have survived the madness. Whatever is on the other side of this door you are about to open you are loved, you are loved, you are loved and you can love out of that love.

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News and a New Blog

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Music playing: The Be Good Tanya’s- The Collection.
Drink of choice: Caffeinated tea.
Background ambience: Sunny sunshine, breeze blowing through the window.

I feel like it should be time for one of those update posts that this blog seems to have become all about over the last few months. This time last week I sat and wrote about writing. Then I did some, not for this blog, for another blog. But more of all that in a moment.

Firstly, what’s the state of our team?

It’s been an interesting week. And by interesting I mean overly shouty and exhausting. By Friday afternoon I was to be found asleep on a sofa in our spare room with son2 shouting outside the door for Mummy whilst the amazing Daddy explained that he might have broken the Mummy and maybe they should go and read books for a while. After some of my less good parenting moments came back to me through son1’s mouth (‘how many times do I have to tell you to listen Mummy?’) we all needed the welcome break of a Saturday away. I took the boys to visit my wonderful friends Anna and Johnny. We bumbled around a country park with their girls, son2 overcame his fear of Johnny and became obsessed with him. No-one shouted and all in all it was a wonderful break in the general theme of grumpy grump that is lurking around our house at the moment.

The less said about Sunday the better I think. Husbandface has had a particularly bad weekend coming off drugs and letting the realisation of being signed off work until September sink in. We are all bored of the situation and the boys are beginning to ask heartbreaking questions about why Daddy is sick and will they catch it etc. Ugh. Thankfully right now the sun is shinning, the endorphins are flowing today and we will have a break from this relentless norm next week, when we got to London for a holiday with amazing family. Phew.

Stuff we actually like doing

All week we’ve also been preparing to launch our new blog all about our motorhome adventure in the summer and life as a family exploring more of the great outdoors. I’ve been loving writing some initial posts for it. I’ve realised I’ve felt more and more limited in what I want to write about on this blog, I hope that changes soon but I feel restricted in my writing. I want to write about faith and the changes going on in my head but I also fear starting to do that. I don’t really want a vast audience for this little corner of the internet, I don’t want a platform for these thoughts, I don’t want the vast swell of opinions that seem to come to people when they start getting a bigger audience for thoughts of faith and how this God thing works out in life. I feel fairly similarly when it comes to writing about parenting. I have yet to figure out how to write well about our life without it becoming or seeming to be a judgement about how others do stuff. In both christianity and parenting there are so many tribes and so many conflicting ideas that I feel paralysed when it comes to writing about my experiences of both. I’m probably overthinking these things but it feel much simpler to write about motorhomes and nature.

Anyway. Without further ado- here’s the real point of this blog post- head over to this page and discover our new blog. There will probably be lots of cross over posts as we write about things and it’ll be that blog I post our adventures taking part in the 30 days of wild challenge organised by The Wildlife Trusts. You can even follow us on twitter. 

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Taking up the writing challenge

This morning I read a tweet that spoke straight to my soul. Simple helpful advice on writing. It said this:

“I’m going on the record as still believing in blogging, if for no other reason than improving your writing. Forget platform; log some hours” Sharon Hodde Miller

Which is kind of what I’d been thinking about last night when I made myself sit down and write. I really want to write more but I am pretty lazy. I like the dream rather than the reality. The reality is that it is good to log the hours of writing, blogging has always made me try and write better. Honestly, right now, I don’t want a platform. The glare of social media scares me but I do want to hone this craft. Blogging is a good thing. So here we go again, another one of my annual I realise writing is something I need to do and this space is a good place to do it in.

So here’s my offering today, tales of my run this morning. Brought to you with the backdrop of Harry Styles new album.

Wednesday morning.

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From the track I run down. Sadly the sky today was grey.

I slip my feet into running shoes, tie up the laces, stretch out my calf muscles and open the back door. Today is the day of my long run. It’s Wednesday, the boys are out at nursery, I have no worries about being quick and back home before they overwhelm the husbandface with noise and shouts of mine, mine, mine. I walk up the steps, click the button marked run on my fitbit, check the phone and once up out on the path I hit start on the mapmyrun app. The first kilometre is hard going. Straight away the pavement goes up and I try and find my running pace. I like that the first part of the run is up hill, it gives my lungs space to hurt and then find their rhythm again. It seems to help with the rest of the hills. I pause in my thoughts and turn to my childhood holidays where mountains played an integral part. Maybe I think exercise should always start with up because it is deeply ingrained in the fibre of my being. I miss mountains. I miss mountains. Anyway, focus on what is in front of me, not what I can’t have.

Up and up I go, the road gently leading me up and up to the top of the bowl of green we live on. I push forward and breathe with relief as my feet find the dirt track which curls around to the edge of Brighton and beyond. Undulating up and down over 2k there and 2k back again. I run on, my thoughts wandering all over the place, I stare at the lush crazy different shades of green all around and marvel at the changes that have occurred since the winter. My legs feel good, my arms move up and down, up and down, my lungs protest at the muggy air, breathing deep feels hard but I move on. Down the hill and past the turn off if I was going to do a 3k route. Up the hill again and past the cow fields to the end of the track, hitting the lamppost at the end junction I turn around and jog back down the hill. Here I know it will get harder. My feet move me past the turn off again and back up the hill. I hit 4k and know it is a hard slog up this hill. I stare at the ground and think of metaphors for life. Just keep going this next step, don’t look at the vast hill in front of me. Keep going. Keep going. This is all you have. This next step. One Direction burst into my ears and I move my arms to the rhythm of ‘Drag me Down’. It seems to help. I breathe deep and deeper and hit the brow feeling glad as my legs continue to dance along. Past some dogs, thankfully on leads, and around the corner to the last stretch. Beyond the 5k mark.

I wonder how I’ll manage to do that all over again, as I have to in the 10k I will run at the beginning of July. I push the thought to the back of my mind and remember that running events always feel different. Lots of bodies together running makes it easier to keep going. There’s another metaphor there somewhere but I’m too lazy to unpack it right now. I breathe. I run. I still find this road strange having run it in the dark so often this past winter. Now the woods are less creepy and I can see the undulating pavement easier. The house with all the junk outside it still makes me run a little faster though. Some kind of adrenaline rush courses through my body, I feel good, I feel so good. Ed Sheeran in my ears helps me pick up the pace and my legs still feel like they could do more. Time for the last bit down the steep hill and around the corner to home.

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Because I must write. Life right now. Just because…

IMG_0119I’ve had this blog post brewing in the back of my mind for the last week or so. Every time I have sat down to type or thought about it I’ve been hit by overwhelming tiredness, distractions of the internet and the hole of planning we need to do for our epic road trip this summer. Turns out life on the open road is less about romantic getting out there and more about spreadsheets and figuring out where would be a good place to stop every few days to make sure we can see some cool stuff and have enough of that outdoors fun we crave. (well it is with kids and a prohibition on wild camping in most of the UK) It’s about looking at amazing places to stay only to discover that they are booked already because the rest of the country is well aware it will be August and have planned way earlier than us. Except Northumberland. Northumberland we salute you.

Argh. I can feel the fog descending again and I am determined to push through. I want to write. Writing is about sitting down and doing it. I was going to put this post in an amusing conversation piece with myself style. That requires more effort than I seem to be able to muster now. Blog posts are amazing in my head as I run and run around this bowl of green. Later once bedtime is done I crumble, crawl into bed and watch endless Parks and Recreation (we are SO late to the party on this one but oh my word. So funny. So much better for our heads than 13 Reasons Why)

It was mental health week last week. I was going to write about my mental health and maybe the mental health of my broken wonderful husbandface. I even went to an evening about it. Share Your Story, where I listened to three different stories of brokenness, pain and some redemption. For me it raised the questions of what on earth is good mental health?, and, Where is the line between helpful diagnosis and unhelpful labels? It was an evening that confirmed how flipping non linear the line to good mental health is.  It’s a process which may never end and we really need to think through our perception of what ‘normal’ we are striving to achieve.

Last week was a week that started amazingly as I led some sessions on authenticity at our church’s women’s retreat. I loved the time away. I loved reading huge chunks of Romans 12 and seeing it blow my and others minds. I loved starting the conversation, providing space for people to contemplate life with God again.  I loved a room to myself and a whole nights sleep. A whole nights sleep without a small person digging their legs into my spine or squashing my face against theirs. A whole nights sleep. I loved the time to not help out, sounds odd but I loved just existing, not having to clean up small people gunk and not having to constantly think about them. I loved driving back to Brighton and seeing a friend in her first solo show in the festival. I loved laughing, crying and being in awe of her physicality as she took us on a tour through adolescence, swimming the individual medley and life in transition from the UK to Zambia and back again.  I loved catching up with old friends of the best kind who are family and see us in need and out of their full on family life poured out love and grace on our weary souls. It was a good start to the week.

Things kind of nosedived from there into it being increasingly clear the husbandface would need to be signed off work again. This week he was the worst I’ve seen for a long time (and he’s been pretty bad for a long long time). We really want to find a better way to live for long term recovery to be possible. He’s off work thankfully and we wait and see for how long. We are aching to find a better rhythm for life that enables us to live, eat and love. Mental health is important and delicate and good mental health, which I think looks different from person to person, is worth finding. We are on the search for it.

Coherent thoughts are unbelievably hard to put together right now. I’m exhausted. I’m hopeful. I’m desperate for escape. I love our rooted house and community. I’m in despair. I’m full of faith. I have no idea what faith looks like in this landscape. I want to write about God and what on earth I think about that right now. I have no words. I have no words. I have no words.

Turns out staring at campsites on the internet is slightly more easy than this writing malarky. I think I need another cup of tea.

Maybe I should return to writing more and posting a little bit of writing each day. Maybe. Anything to kick start this muse again, anything to better help me process life and faith in this somewhat barren world we meander through at the moment. Anyway, as you were. Maybe go put the kettle on eh. 

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The last two weeks… 

Friday morning. 

We are at that farm again. The one we have passes for. Irritatingly there is a school party here as well. But we’ll see how long the boys last with their peace and quiet invaded. (Or let’s face it, how long I will last). It’s been a couple of weeks since a round up post so, well, why not. 

Not much changes around here. We are in full on spring mode which means I’m generally feeling much better than in previous months. I am fairly drunk on light, bluebells, green green grass and cherry blossom. Little has changed in the dark tunnel we find ourselves in. Husbandface is dragging himself to work each day. I’m really not sure he should be. 

The boys and I are mooching along in a generally good mannered way up and down way. Less shouting all round but the normal ups and downs of life with small people. I was ill, they were ill. I had a week off running and then a week back into it all in preparation for a 10k I have signed up for at the beginning of July. I’ve been full of faith and at times I’ve been convinced there is no God at all. 

I’ve also been preparing for our church women’s retreat this weekend where I’m doing a couple of sessions on authenticity. Something I think is only possible if you know who you are because of knowing who you belong to. It’ll be interesting having a chat about it all and enjoying some time away from the weirdos. I’m less convinced about leaving the lovely husbandface so if you are of the praying sort then please do. 

Mostly I have no inclination to think beyond the few moments in front of me. The future is entirely unknown and I still don’t know how long this tunnel is. But the mood is good in the tunnel for now. (It will have probably changed several times by the time you read this..) 

That’s enough of life right now. All my thoughts at the moment are actually taken up with motorhomes. We had such a brilliant time away and it was so good for husbandface’s mental health that we are planning an epic road trip for a month in the summer. Thanks to some amazing people we’ve hired a motorhome and from the end of July to the end of August we will be touring the country. I want to go now. The desire to hit the open road is strong. This year has been so crap I feel like we need some fun and a safe place to travel around in. The idea is that as well as seeing some cool stuff we will catch up with friends along the way. So if you fancy hanging out with us do get in touch. We would love to see you. 

Right. I am being called on to be a monster and chase small people around the soft play. Rahhhhhhhhhhh. 

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What I’ve been reading, a bumper March-April edition.

The last two months have run away in a haze of illness, coughing, holidays and more. Books were harder to pick up as life got more intense but I have read some stuff and here it is from the last two months.

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We are all Completely Beside Ourselves- Joy Fowler.
It took me about 5 attempts to get into this one for some reason. When I did I found a fascinating and interesting read. The kind of twist happens early on and it’s a good unfolding story.

 

Wild – Cheryl Strayed
I confess I only read this because of the Gilmore Girls last
few episodes. I haven’t yet seen the film but the book had me hooked and determined to find time to complete the South Downs way. An interesting insight on dealing with grief and some damaging life choices. I always find it interesting to see how people do this without the God perspective. A good old walk in the wilderness seemed to work well.

funFun Science- Charlie McDonnell.
Charlie is a youtuber we’ve been following for a while, mainly because he was a sweet teenager who was engaging and fun. He grew up and wrote an intro to science book because he loves science. I read it because I felt my science knowledge could do with some refreshing. It was a fairy engaging read, funny and basic enough for me to understand and realise I knew more than I thought.

perfectPerfect- Rachel Joyce
I remember enjoying this book. But for the life of me I can’t remember what it was about. Ah yes, a book focusing on the summer of an 11 year old and flicking between that and a man struggling with OCD. A compelling read.

prayerA Praying Life- Paul Miller.
My second read through and as helpful as ever. This is the only book on prayer that has ever made me pray. He really helpfully talks realistically about prayer and cuts through my cynical heart that refuses to ask. I love this book because it is so honest about how life is hard, how good God is and how we can carry on asking in the face of life’s struggles and pain. He doesn’t duck away from the issues of prayer but leads the reader through to not giving up on praying because of those issues but praying in the midst of them. Not letting our lack of answers, or confusion about how life with God works, lead us away from God but towards him.

operatingOperating Instructions- Anne Lamott
I can’t believe I was so late to the love of Anne Lamott party but I’m here now and this was a brilliant introduction to her and her writing. I loved this book SO much. It’s the story of her first year as a single parent with her son Sam. I identified with loads of her writing and discovery of the anger and frustration revealed inside when you have to deal with a small creature crying in your face all night. And the next day when you think you might die with how much love you have for the same said small creature. It’s a brilliant read if you have a child, are about to have a child or know anyone with a new small person.

graceGrace Eventually, Thoughts on Faith- Anne Lamott.
I mainly read this for more stories of Sam but it was a fascinating, thought provoking read through some of her thoughts on life.


The Gingerbread House- Kate Beaufoy

I didn’t really get on with this one. I found it fairly annoying and although it was meant to be a sympathetic take on dementia and how it affects a family the ending was a little to contrived for my liking.

Good me, Bad me- Ali Land
Another one of those horrible thriller books you can’t quite put down. A grim story of abuse and killing from the perspective of the daughter forced to watch the mother do it all. I’m sure there are horrific stories out there like this and the psychological affects are well documented here but I really should stop reading books like this. It makes me think everyone is a serial killer out to abuse my kids. I’m sure that’s not true.

roadOn the Road with Kids- John Ahern
Technically I haven’t finished this one yet but I’m sure I will have by tonight or tomorrow. It’s the story of a family Motorhoming through Europe for a year. If you saw my last post you’ll understand the inspiration behind this one. It’s a very entertaining and informative read. Husbandface said he stopped reading it due to extreme jealousy. I haven’t quite got that far yet, it’s an enticing life but also seems crazy stressful, but also has really positive effects on their family life and relations with each other. Argh. Someone lend us a motorhome for the summer eh.

And there we go, a mixed bag. With some gems.

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