Our summer bucket list with #sweetsummerchallenge and Sweet Whimsy Photography

I was recently put in touch with Donna Loring of Sweet Whimsy Photography, a family photographer based nearby in South Wales who is challenging families to write a to do list for summer and then get outdoors and do all the fun stuff! I’m a big fan of a list. Especially a fun list! Definitely preferable to my usual stuff-to-do-around-the-house list. I set to work straight away writing a list, and in the few weeks since we’ve actually managed to do quite a few of these already! It’s been a lot of fun!

Go camping with friends

Splash in the sea

Search rock pools for creatures

Eat chips on the seafront

Go strawberry picking

Paddle in a lake

Climb a mountain

Go geocaching

Walk the dog in the woods

Visit Castell Coch

Take a boat bus from Cardiff Bay

Visit the splash park

Have a picnic

Pop bubbles in the garden

Build sand castles

Ride on steam trains

Camp in the forest

Visit the lido

Fly kites

Wander around a harbour

Painting in the garden

Play in the paddling pool

Have a BBQ

Visit Folly Farm

So if you’re finding yourself stuck for ideas when you wake up on these summer holiday mornings, try sitting down with your family and writing a similar list. Join in by tagging blog posts and pictures with #sweetsummerchallenge on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For more information and some great free print outs and ideas head to Donna’s page here and sign up!

Pop back here tomorrow and I’ll be sharing the wonderful photographs from our shoot with Donna!

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Life lately (again) 

I’ve done this before, returned to blogging after a break only to find it hard to write. There’s been such a big gap, and I know of only one way to record what happened in that time. A list! 

We tried to rekindle our love for geocaching, but it was freezing cold, the geocaching app wasn’t working, Iris fell over, and none of us had any fun. 

 

Trevor finally finished wallpapering the living room wall. (It only took him a year.) 

Sub Zero ice cream parlour opened and we visited several times. 

Spring finally arrived! 

My migraines returned. I went back on amitriptyline to prevent them. 

We visited the steam railway at Blaenavon. The Easter bunny was on the train and Iris was terrified. 

We went back to Warren Mill Farm Park. Trevor tried to pick up a prairie dog and it bit him. 

We ventured to Barry Island on the train on a really cold day. Just me and the little ones. It was scary but I was brave. 

Iris did quite a bit of cycling. 

Iris started learning Welsh at a Welsh mum and toddler group, but it only lasted 4 weeks before they decided it wasn’t successful. We were gutted. 

We went to stay with my mum over the bridge, and hung out with my niece and nephew at soft play on a rainy day. 

We got the train to Cardiff a couple of times. We visited Parc play centre. Iris liked the sandpit and huge wooden boat. 

We bought a spiralizer and ate a lot of ‘green spaghetti’. 

Iris became obsessed with a book called ‘Cat’s Colours’ that she borrowed from the library. She learnt to recognise red, blue, green, yellow, orange, purple and black because of it. She also started trying count, a skill she uses mostly to count horse poops when we go out to walk the dog. 

Summer arrived. The paddling pool came out, and the sandpit was filled. Iris started painting all of the stones in the garden. 

We went to Barry again, in better weather. 

Life rumbled along nicely in much the same way it always does, and we all got used to Astrid while she got used to us. 

I ate way too much chocolate. 

Hello, 2016

I’ve seen a lot of great blog posts about new year’s resolutions this past week or so, but this isn’t going to be one of those. I’m usually a sucker for resolutions, I even keep them sometimes. I quit smoking and biting my nails thanks to resolutions. I also started running and kept it up for quite a long time. I don’t think they’re a bad idea or that you’re just setting yourself up to fail. I just don’t want to do that this year.

I’ve got enough on my plate, frankly.

When you’re this pregnant and you could have a baby any day, things like the start of a new year pass you by to some extent. Everything is about this baby and when it’s going to get out of my body. Then once she’s out here in the world, everything will be about breastfeeding and getting some sleep and adjusting to having two children under two. I do not have time for resolutions.

So instead I’m going to write a to-do list, which may seem like exactly the same thing but I can assure you it is not. There is no pressure, from me or anybody else, to tick off everything on this list. Some are essential and some are just fun things I’d like to do. Or things I’ve been meaning to do but never got around to. Stuff like that. It’s no biggie if most of it is left undone.

Here goes.

  1. Get this baby out. Get her out, but in a much more positive way than the day I got Iris out. The plan is: go into labour, go to birth centre, have a birth in the pool without any huge drama, get discharged a few hours later and come home.
  2. Breastfeed. Probably won’t do much else for the first few weeks after the birth, but that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be. That’s how you get the hang of it, and that’s how you grow chunky happy babies.
  3. Let shit go. Sorry for the swear word. I’m terrible for clinging onto the stuff that stresses me out but actually really doesn’t matter.
  4. Get Trevor to put up the rest of the wallpaper. Three pieces aren’t enough, mister.
  5. Spend my 31st birthday over in Bristol. Take the kids to the aquarium. Have dinner out somewhere nice.
  6. Generally spend a bit more time in Bristol actually.
  7. See my old buddies and my bestest buddies more. Much more. 2015 was a poor year for my friendships and I’d love to fix that this year.
  8. Keep this blogging thing up. I have no desire to blog to a schedule or make it really successful or make a living from it. I just want to keep it up and keep enjoying it. That’s it.
  9. Be outside. All the time. As much as possible. Every day if I can. Nothing makes me feel better and I know Iris is the same.
  10. Go camping! I’d love to go at Easter, but I’m not sure we can this year. Having a new tiny baby won’t stop us though. We went when Iris was just 9 weeks old! We’ll definitely go in August though. Definitely.
  11. Visit Castell Coch. It’s so pretty, and I’ve lived around the corner from it for 2 whole years. I’ve never been!
  12. Splash in the sea. Lots.
  13. Climb trees. As much as possible.
  14. Walk for miles.
  15. Go to Folly Farm. I hear it’s pretty good.
  16. Go back to Cattle Country.
  17. Go out. At night time. Without the babies. At least once. (I’m not very good at this.)
  18. Read books. Lots of them. I used to get through them thick and fast, several a week. I’ve barely read a thing since Iris came along! I miss getting lost in a good story.
  19. Run! This isn’t a resolution before you say it is. It has no health/weight loss/fitness/distance/speed goals attached. I just want to run. Running feels good. It’s outside, it’s my time, and it makes me feel happy. Run!
  20. I’ve always wanted to get into yoga. Maybe I’ll do that at last.
  21. Be a good mum. Have patience. Be gentle. Try not to yell.
  22. Cuddle.
  23. Take naps. Whenever possible.
  24. Make the most of my me-time, actually rest instead of being distracted by social media all the time!
  25. Don’t take Trevor for granted. He’s one of the best ones. Let him know.
  26. Take even more pictures than in 2015. Not sure this is even possible!
  27. Do not get any more pets. You have plenty.
  28. Embrace Wales! Make more friends, see more places. Take the train. Take the bus. Get out there!
  29. Go to a toddler day at Techniquest. Still haven’t got round to that.
  30. Find lots of new places to go. Make new favourite places.
  31. Finish the multiple courses I’m supposed to be doing but never actually do. Particularly the breastfeeding mother peer supporter one. That one means a lot.
  32. Get the kids together with my sister’s kids as much as possible. Cousins are supposed to be your first friends. Give them the opportunity to make that happen. A bridge and a border should not get in the way!
  33. Shop in charity shops. Give things to charity shops.
  34. Crochet! Maybe even knit a little bit. Make things. Encourage the kids to make things.

That’ll do. For now anyway. Perhaps I’ll come back and cross these things out, or write an update at some point. Perhaps not. We’ll see. No pressure.

2016 is going to be a good one, I can feel it.

My Instagram Christmas wish list 

We’re skint this Christmas. It’s probably going to be a struggle to find the cash for the mince pies and satsumas once we’ve got the kid’s presents sorted, so I know Trev and I won’t be buying for each other again this year. I’ve requested button-down warm pyjamas from anybody else (like my mum!) who has asked what I would like. Mainly as I have nothing warm and cosy to sleep and breastfeed the new baby in. 

In reality, there’s quite a long list of things I would currently like! But I know that we are already better off than almost every family in the world because there will be food and presents, and I’m more than happy with that. 

However, if we did suddenly have a load of money to spare that I could spend on myself, I’d spend it all on small businesses I’ve found on Instagram! 

My Wish List.

 

Yes, those are rainbow tie dye woolly tights in adults sizes. Yup. I have always wanted to wear amazing colourful tights like those lucky toddlers get to wear. I’ve never found quite the right ones though, and then I stumbled upon @threevioletbuttons on Instagram. I fell madly in love. Find the Etsy shop here, and if you fancy buying me a pair of these while you’re there I will promise to love you forever! There’s also kid’s stuff and hand dyed yarn to be found over there. 

  

I love @thedresstree! Plus I also love Kim who makes these gorgeous things quite a bit too. Find her beautiful blog here and even more beautiful Etsy shop here. I actually own Kim’s first ever breastfeeding friendly dress, another dress, two kimonos and several necklaces from here already! I’m currently lusting after her new range of velvet skirts, but I adore that sunflower dress too. I’m obviously way too round to wear either but not for much longer. A new dress would be just the thing to perk up a body-conscious me after giving birth in the most miserable month of the year. 

  

This is not the first time I’ve mentioned @sunjellies on my blog. I wrote a whole blog post about my obsession with their jelly shoes at the end of last summer. I lived in them while pregnant with Iris as I couldn’t get my big fat feet to fit comfortably into anything else. Iris even has a tiny purple pair. They’re adorable. This time though, I want a bag. This exact bag actually. A squishy gorgeous yellow jelly bag, to stuff with crochet stuff and hang stylishly on the handle of the pushchair. Can you imagine how cool I’d look? Find the online shop here.

  

I don’t actually remember a specific tiny beaded purse from my childhood, and I’m sure I had several. Probably several hundred. I have a feeling I kept earrings in them. For some reason they make me think of those shops along the beach on summer holidays with my family as a little girl. @playpurse have taken those nostalgic little beaded purses and blown them up. To adult size. Like big beaded clutch versions. And I LOVE them. Actually, this colour would look good inside my jelly bag, wouldn’t it? Buy the PlayPurse online right here.

  

Jewellery made out of kid’s toys. Perfection, right? I know I’m a 30 year old but I’m not ready to think of myself as a grown up just yet. I want a My Little Pony one. Or maybe a Santa one, as it is Christmas after all. Actually, I want all of them. Buy from the LoveFromToby Instagram page, which also supports Children’s Heart Surgery Fund. 

  

Ok, I know this was supposed to be a list of things that I want for me but I’m so taken by these hats. I’d love matching ones for Iris and her nearly-here baby sister. So so cute! They’re available online here.

Instagram is so full of wonderful people who make beautiful things, and small businesses supporting families or charities. If only being a stay at home mum paid better! I could easily get addicted to shopping in this way.  

Life Lately

I did that terribly irritating thing where you announce that you have returned to blogging, only to find that you have absolutely nothing whatsoever to say.

It’s not that life isn’t interesting or that I’ve been doing nothing, I just haven’t felt like writing. I still don’t. However I don’t want to let this thing slide away, and it occurred to me that maybe if I write a thing just once the love will return. So, a list.

A list as it’s the only thing I have. No creative juices are flowing here.

1. I turned 30. It wasn’t so bad. It didn’t even hurt and I don’t feel any different. Plus I had an amazing cake, lovely presents and a wonderful weekend with my family.

2. Iris went from wriggling along like a worm and rocking on all fours to actually crawling. Not slowly either. Full pelt across the room. She holds onto stuff and stands up too. It’s terrifying.

3. My step kids referred to me as step mum. I cried a bit and then felt really old.

4. I gained all of the weight I previously lost and then lost a little bit of it.

5. I ran a mile in 11 and a half minutes.

6. Seb and Margot were infested with fleas. Nightmare. Oh, and Margot had her kitten-preventing-operation and will soon be allowed out to play.

7. The horrible red carpet is finally gone. The new laminate flooring is beautiful. The living room is all freshly painted and we’re just a few strips of wallpaper away from a gorgeous new room.

8. I bought a new parent facing pushchair because I fell out of love with babywearing a little bit.

9. I had my first Mother’s Day. Cried a bit. Felt massively overwhelmed by how incredible being a mother is.

10. Returned to blogging, sort of, in a spectacularly stupid way.

Winter

I think we’re very nearly done with autumn now, and we did pretty well with doing the things on our list that we hoped to do in autumn. There were a couple of important things that we didn’t quite manage, so I think I’ll stick them on the bottom of this list, just in case we have more money/time this season. Seems unlikely because of Christmas, but hey, worth a try.
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So here’s our winter list.

1. Visit Westonbirt Aboretum for the winter enchanted forest walk.

We planned to do this yesterday, but didn’t make it.

2. Ice Skating.

I won’t actually be able to skate with Iris, but the big kids can with Trev while I take pictures. I don’t know where we’ll go, as there seems to be a hundred temporary ice rinks to choose from every winter these days. Which one is the best?

3. Visit Santa.

I’m told he has a grotto at Dare Valley Country Park and we love it there, so I reckon we’ll combine it with a mountain walk and make a real day of it.

4. Take pictures of the kids all together in their Christmas jumpers and outfits.

We did Halloween versions of this and the pictures are wonderful!

5. Go to Puxton Park.

We did this last year around Christmas time with my sister and her family. It rained so we spent the whole day in the play barn, but we had the best day! It doesn’t seem like long ago, yet I was barely pregnant and not even really showing, and my sister was quite heavily pregnant with my nephew and couldn’t go down the slides. My niece was only tiny and too small for most of the equipment, but she was brave and ambitious and wanted to try anyway! This year she’s far more capable, my nephew is crawling and will love the toddler area, and Iris will be there to watch! My mum is going to tag along for the day too. I’m looking forward to it very much!

6. Get into Geocaching!

I only heard about geocaching lately, but immediately knew it was exactly the sort of thing we’d enjoy. More on this soon.
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We’ve done a tiny bit, and have got lots of plans for more. Very exciting stuff!

7. Start baby-led weaning with Iris.

I’m so excited about this but also dreading it. I think she’s pretty much ready now, but we’re going hold off for a couple more weeks. The big kids want to be here, and the only day we’ve got free to stay home and all eat together is in a couple of weeks.

8. Spend some time with my family.

I really don’t see any of them enough, and it gets to me at times. I have to see them over the Christmas holiday. Have to.

9. Earn some money.

This was on my last list too, but it really is quite important.

10. Use my camera, instead of my phone, for photography.

I’m crap at remembering my camera, but I’m always a bit disappointed with the pictures from my phone. Must. Try. Harder

11. Have a huge clear out.

We have way too much stuff. Endless boxes and bags of stuff filling every room and collecting dust. It really has to go. All of it.

12. Have a wonderful Christmas!

It’s our first one, really. Last year we weren’t living together.

This is a very half-hearted list, written with very little enthusiasm. I’m struggling to muster any, as I haven’t slept in days. Please forgive me.

Autumn List – An Update

Remember back in September when I wrote this list about all the things I hoped to do? Well I did actually manage to do quite a few of these things!

1. Visit Mountain View Ranch

We managed this pretty early on and had such a fabulous day! Amazing weather helped too. I wrote all about it here. IMG_4094.JPG

2. Sort out the alcove full of junk.

We’ve bought and assembled some storage units from Ikea, but this is still a work in progress. It’s essentially done, we just haven’t worked out what to do with all of the crap we pulled out of it!

3. Get laminate flooring.

Nope. No way we can afford that before Christmas.

4. Go camping again.

Nope. No money (or time) for that one either!

5. Take Seb to the beach

Ah, our lovely cold and windy trip to Barry Island a couple of weeks ago! That was one of my favourite days of autumn. IMG_5184.JPG

6. Try out a woven sling

I borrowed an absolutely gorgeous FireSpiral Sling from the lovely Ellie at Cwtch Up Pontypridd during International Babywearing Week. We didn’t get on very well with wrapping. Iris goes a bit mental! I love the wrap though, it is so beautiful. In the end we bought a Mei Tai and we love it. After a wonderful babywearing group meeting this week I’m determined to have another go with a woven wrap though. Watch this space. IMG_5477.JPG

7. Find new places to walk

We sort of did this. We found Dare Valley County Park and we absolutely loved it there! We’ve been twice, and had the best time on both visits. We’ll definitely be regular walkers there. One new place probably isn’t enough though, so I’ll still be looking for more. Places with mountains are our favourite! IMG_4944.JPG

8. Frame some pictures and put them up.

They’re framed. They’re standing on top of various different bits of furniture which isn’t what I meant by ‘up’, but that’ll do for now. They look pretty.

9. Make Pumpkin Spiced Latte in the slow cooker.

Nah. Ran out of time. We kept all of the pumpkin insides in the fridge for a few days and I had every intention of using them. It just didn’t happen. Never mind. Maybe next year.

10. Visit Nanny’s Grave.

Oh I miss my Nanny so very much. I finally got round to visiting her grave and I took Iris too. It was hard to hold myself together. It still breaks my heart that Nanny and Iris never got to meet each other. IMG_4561.JPG

11. Join more baby groups and make some friends.

I went to one other group and haven’t made it back. It’s in the morning and Iris sleeps late! We did get invited to a party though, and I definitely feel like we’ve made some friends.

12. Carve Pumpkins and See Fireworks.

We missed out on seeing fireworks around bonfire night thanks to torrential rain, but we finally saw a display last weekend. We carved pumpkins too, which was great fun! Or it was until they went mouldy sitting in the living room. Yuck. IMG_5024.JPG

13. Get Iris a Christmas jumper.

Actually we haven’t done this exactly. Instead of a jumper, we’ve got a reindeer costume and a Santa suit! She’s going to look adorable!!

14. Get a laptop.

No money, no laptop. I’m still blogging on an iPad and my phone. It’s not brilliant but it’ll have to do for now.

15. Find an income.

I haven’t done this, and the clock really is ticking. I do have an idea though, and may just join a good friend of mine in her fantastic venture. Exciting!

I’ll be back with a winter to-do list soon!