Autumn. Again.

Photo 02-10-2016, 17 24 29.pngNormally at this time of year I’m completely in denial about the summer ending and autumn beginning, but this year I am not.

I’m not sure if it’s having babies or all the extra weight I’m carrying around, but I’ve gone from being the person who is always cold to always being hot and sweaty. I’ve had enough now. I don’t look good in summer dresses or bikinis. I want layers and knitwear and clunky boots. If I really must wear a dress I want to wear it with woolly tights. I definitely want to stop caring about how hairy my legs are now. photo-02-10-2016-17-32-58

Why does it keep raining when it is far too warm to wear a coat?

I also feel kind of odd about the cooler weather coming. Winter means Astrid’s birthday, and I just don’t understand how I don’t have a newborn anymore. When did that happen?

photo-02-10-2016-17-32-46We’ve already been collecting conkers. Iris has a whole bucket full of them and I have no idea what to do with them. Any crafty conker ideas this way please! At 27 months, I think Iris is just about starting to appreciate craft activities. Somehow autumn feels like craft season. I’ve been crocheting quite a bit when I can, and I really feel like doing some knitting. Or maybe cross stitch. Iris loves playing with glue and glitter, so I really should come up with some new ideas for things she can create. photo-02-10-2016-17-33-48

Halloween and Bonfire Night are two of my favourite celebrations! I’m really looking forward to carving pumpkins and watching fireworks. I’m a little bit worried that Iris won’t like fireworks this year. She’s developed a bit of a sensitivity to loud noises recently, and gets quite scared when noisy vehicles pass by or a hand dryer unexpectedly comes on. It’ll be a shame if we have to skip the display in our local park. It was so good last year! photo-02-10-2016-17-33-56

I sometimes write a list of things I want to do or achieve in Autumn. It helps to keep me motivated to fill our days when the cold weather is getting me down, but I don’t feel like it this year. I’ve got lots of ideas and want to do lots of fun things! I want to keep us outdoors as much as possible whatever the weather. I don’t cope well with being trapped indoors, and both of my little ones seem to have inherited that. DSC01970.JPG

Waterproofs and welly boots at the ready, we’ll still be having adventures all over!

 

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Cattle Country 

Way way back in September there was that weekend that was almost a complete disaster. Every little thing went a bit wrong and I was left feeling a bit deflated and crap. It wasn’t all bad though.

Cattle Country is in Berkeley, Gloucestershire. It’s just 15 minutes from my mum’s house so I’m a bit amazed we’ve never thought to go before. While me and Iris were staying with my mum (so that Trevor could finish the decking without Iris under his feet) we decided to finally pay it a visit. My sister and her two little people came along too. It’s always lovely to get the little cousins together for the day. They are all so sweet together.

We arrived around lunch time. After entering through the shop, we found ourselves in an open green space surrounded by play areas. There’s even a water play splash area, but we didn’t have swimming stuff. It was a pretty warm day though, so a few children were in it splashing around. We headed for the wooden play area instead. Iris napped while the other two played, and then when she woke we ate the sandwiches we’d bought along. There may well have been cafe, but I didn’t even notice. There was enough just in the first play area to keep the little ones amused for an hour or so, and they especially enjoyed the swings.

We soon moved on, to a big wooden castle. The ladders were probably designed with older children in mind, but we managed them with the little ones. Once at the top they enjoyed just walking around and around the upper level holding hands and waving at Nanny who was on the ground looking after pushchairs.

We found a big slide that went down the side of a hill and into a different area. We could make out guinea pigs at the bottom.

From there we found loads of animals to wave at, talk to, stroke and even feed. Goats, cows, more Guinea pigs, little ducklings (that Iris adored!), rabbits and loads more. There’s not much my kiddo likes more than farm animals. My mum held a guinea pig and the kids all stroked it, then Iris managed to get herself bitten by a duckling. It can’t have hurt much though, as she poked her fingers straight back in!

We followed the path around the animal trail, which was incredibly difficult with a pushchair and I won’t take it if we go again. It was a nice walk though. Iris would probably do better now, but hadn’t been walking long at the time and it would have taken about 4 years to let her walk it. We were saddened to find that the little train ride we’d heard about was out of action because it had derailed! The  great big bristly-coated pigs more than made up for it though, and we all had fun tickling them.

There were ducks and chickens everywhere! My mum and sister are both quite frightened of birds. Actually they’re terrified. Not Iris or her cousins though!

Although the little ones were still full of energy, the grown ups were exhausted. Thankfully Cattle Country has some pretty good soft play. We took it in turns to go in with the children and made the most of the benches.

After an ice cream in the sun and a trip to the gift shop for toy tractors, we were done for the day. I can’t wait to go back next year!

Scarf making blogger challenge with @CosyWool. My Autumn #crochet scarf. 

  

I’ve been challenged by the guys at CosyWool.com to make a scarf using yarn from their website, using either knitting or crochet. I accepted immediately! I love both knitting and crochet, but struggle lately to find to the time or the energy to sit down and get some done. I’ve been feeling incredibly anxious lately, and as crafting is incredibly soothing this seemed like the perfect opportunity to take some time to relax and make something pretty. 

  
 Ordering from the CosyWool website is easy peasy. I’d never heard of the company before and usually use another big knitting supplies website or the little craft shop in Pontypridd. Whenever I’ve bought yarn online before I’ve had to be in to accept the delivery, or trek to the post office to pick it up. Not anymore! My favourite thing about CosyWool is that the orders always fit through your letterbox, because they vacuum pack them! It’s absolutely genius! It was a bit weird receiving a flat hard brick through the door when I was expecting squishy balls of softness, but I soon got used to it. Popping a hole in the packaging and watching the yarn reinflate was a lot of fun too!   

As it’s just starting to get pretty cold out, I went for a nice warm chunky yarn. I picked Stylecraft Special Chunky because I’ve used lots of Stylecraft yarns before and they wash and wear really well. I picked out what I thought were 7 autumnal colours, but then Trevor told me the teal was blue and made me think I was colourblind. I nearly took the teal out and used just 6 colours. I originally planned to do something elaborate with leaf shapes, sewing them all together at the end to make a scarf. The shapes themselves are easy enough to do, and I love to make flowers and leaves, but the deadline for finished scarves is 1st December and I was worried they’d take too long. 

So I’ve gone for a simple but effective long, thick and warm cowl. It can be worn long and wrapped around once, or short and doubled up for extra warmth. 

  
It’s easy enough to make, starting with a long chain and then joining it together. I did a double crochet round to start and finish, but the rest is just treble stitch. There’s no need for counting or keeping track of what stitch you’re on, so it’s the perfect project to work on when you’re too tired to function! 
Now that it’s finished I’ve decided to give it to my lovely sister as a birthday present. It’s always so hard to buy for people with December birthdays, and there’s nothing better than a handmade present. I love it so much that I’m going to make a short cowl of the same design with the leftovers. A shorter one will be better for when I’m babywearing the new little one in January as it won’t hang down far enough to touch her face. That’s the plan anyway! 

*CosyWool.com sent me two of the balls of yarn used for my scarf free of charge for the purpose of entering this challenge. I either bought the others or already had them in my ridiculously large stash of yarn. The prize for the winner of this challenge is a bundle of woolly goodies from the CosyWool website worth £60. Wish me luck!* 

Happy Halloween! (For yesterday…) 

  I’m always late. Sorry. It’s been a very busy weekend and I’m so very tired. 

We spent the whole weekend outdoors and with loved ones, and it’s been wonderful. I have a whole post or two to write about what we’ve been up to, but in the meantime I just want to share some pictures that remind me how much has changed in my life in the last two and a bit years. 

   
Halloween 2013

 
Halloween 2014

  
Halloween 2015 

Hopefully next year I’ll remember to get a picture of my two little skeletons and update this. I most definitely will not be pregnant! 

Happy Halloween! 

   
 

Autumn 

  
I adore this time of year. 

Last year I wrote a big list of stuff I wanted to do during the season, and we did most of it too. This year I can’t. I’m having a baby and chasing a toddler around and trying not to stress about having money worries so close to Christmas. 

My only plan is to be outside. All the time. As much as possible. Because I feel better outside. My sofa is comfy and my house is warm, but resting makes me ache and sitting still makes me feel bored. We’ve all had the sniffles here for weeks now, and I just can’t breathe indoors. Only the fresh air will do. 

I’m feeling anxious. Really quite nervous and worried, but not about anything in particular. Air and walking and watching Iris crunch through the leaves are the perfect medicine. Plus it’s free. Enjoying the wonders of autumn is completely free. 

We do have some plans. A friend of mine is starting an outdoors toddler group, beginning with a session on Halloween weekend. It’s Room on the Broom themed and will be muddy. My sister is bringing my niece and nephew over for it and we’re all very excited. 

The biggest kid turns 10. 

I really want to go to Brecon Mountain Railway for their Christmas thingy. 

There’s a couple of Techniquest toddler days before Christmas. Those are definitely on my maybe list. 

Bristol. I need some more Bristol in my life. I’m hoping to squeeze in a couple of visits before I’ve got 2 kids and catching the train is impossible. 

Christmas shopping. I’ll have to find some time and some cash for that, at some point. But not yet. 

Mostly I just want to cherish Iris. I want to do fun things and see how they make her smile. I want to hold her, tickle her, and endlessly sing row row your boat to her (as that seems to make her very happy). Most of our days are spent just us two, me and her. But not for much longer. She won’t remember, I know that. But it still seems so important. I have to fill this short time, the next 12 weeks or so, with love and smiles. 

Then, of course, we’ll be having a baby. In the new year I’ll be a mum to two under two and Iris will be a big sister. There is so much to do before that happens. 

  

Iris at sixteen months

  
I find it strange now, on the odd occasion that somebody refers to Iris as a baby. Despite the chubby thighs and lack of hair (it is growing though!) she’s very much a toddler now. She’s been walking for three whole months and is very stable now. She runs too, at a speed I can’t quite match at 28 weeks pregnant. She’s less and less keen on being carried or strapped into anything, and desperately wants to use her feet at all times. To kill an hour we regularly go to the park, where I plonk her down among the trees and fallen leaves and just follow her. One end of the park to the other can take up a whole afternoon, as Iris charges around and picks up every single interesting object she comes across. I love autumn, and she seems to love it too.  

 

Sleep is an issue at the moment. More an issue for me, than her. I have such terrible insomnia and she’s having some kind of sleep regression. Some nights I’m only managing 2 or 3 hours sleep, and we’ve slipped back into sleeping in late which means we miss the playgroups I rely on for adult human interaction. Hopefully we’ll be back on track soon, because I’m exhausted. Watching Peppa Pig at 3am is not my favourite thing. Co sleeping is what keeps us going. At least when she wakes and needs cuddling back to sleep she’s right there. I just don’t have the energy to get up and walk back and forth to the nursery so many times a night. 

 

She still loves food. A lot of her buddies seem to be going through  a fussy eating phase and I’ve been told they all do. I’m hoping they’re wrong, as she’s the easiest kid ever to feed. She’s eats very nearly everything. She’s not keen on baked beans, but I think that’s about it. She prefers me not to cut her food up and absolutely will not be spoon fed, and even manages to eat messy stuff like cereal completely independently.

  

We have a proper routine now. It’s totally baby-led still, and I’ve not pushed anything onto her at all. We often sleep til 8 these days, thanks to the sleepless nights, meaning it’s a mad rush to get out for playgroup. I make sure our bag is packed with nappies and spare clothes the night before, and a packed lunch if needed. There’s no time for that in the morning. The only way I can get a shower is to take her into the bathroom with me, and to save time she eats her breakfast in there too. For the first time I’m glad our bathroom is downstairs! I set the iPad up and she eats cereal and watches cartoons while I get a decent shower. She’s down to one nap most days, which usually happens 3 or 4 hours after she gets up. This is around lunchtime, so I either make sure she’s had lunch or give her a snack to get her through until afterwards. With no afternoon nap, we have a bit more freedom. While it’s still warm enough, I’m trying to make sure we get outside for some fresh air every afternoon. Some times we walk the dog, and other times we head to the park. It does both of us so much good. Dinner is at 6 or 7, followed by a bath, some stories and then bed. Most nights Iris goes to sleep easily and quickly, with either me or Trev lying on the bed for cuddles. We never leave her awake. She wouldn’t sleep, she’d just cry. I can’t see the sense in turning bedtime into a battle. At the moment it’s pleasant and she’s happy.  

  

I swear she learns at least one new word a day. They’re never the words you expect to hear next. Sometimes I’m not even sure where they came from. She can let me know she wants ‘snack’ or ‘juice’. She actually rarely has juice, but uses juice to mean water or milk too. She knows so many animal noises, as well as noises of other things. She says ‘car brrrm’ and ‘bus’ and calls the dog ‘Sebby’. The other day she saw me naked and shouted ‘bum!’.

  

One of her favourite things to do is to visit the library and choose some books to take home. She loves books. We have to read several in the evening, and she can often be found sitting on th floor by her bookcase reading to herself. She babbles and points and laughs, it’s so very sweet. 

  
Every stage is more amazing than the last one, and I’ve loved every bit of being her mum. However, I adore this toddler stage! Partly because she’s so affectionate. She’ll come over for a cuddle, and squeeze me tight. She plants big kisses on my face, pats my back and holds my hand. It’s wonderful. She’s noticed my growing belly too, and often kisses and touches it. She says ‘baba’ to it but I don’t think she really understands. I love each new word, and watching her learn. It’s visible, the little cogs turning in her brain. I can see her absorbing and taking in every detail and processing it. It’s such a privilege to watch. 

  
 I’m nervous about the new baby. I feel guilty already for having to share my attention between two babies. I’m hoping Iris is confident and attached enough to not take it so badly. I hope she never feels like she’s lost her place or that I love her less. 

  

Her smiles and laughs floor me every single time. She’s made me the happiest I’ve ever been. She is everything. There is no point in anything else. Thanks kiddo, for 487 wonderful days. I love you.