Although I do a lot (most?) of my shopping online these days (life with small children…), I find it a bit of nightmare trying to find clothes I like. Often either feel overwhelmed with everything a Google search throws up or opt for a familiar website, even if it means not buying exactly what I was looking for.
I’m currently on the hunt for a maternity dress for an upcoming wedding so I’ve enjoyed looking through Lyst, a site that makes it easy to shop across a wide range of brands, putting together “lysts” you can review later. It’s a kind of wishlist system meets social network (you can follow people’s lysts). You can click straight through to purchase.
Above are a few bits that caught my eye when putting together my maternity lyst.
The pyjama bottoms are from Frugi, a brand I love because of its pretty prints and high quality manufacture as well as its commitment to using organic materials and ensuring fair production.
This boho swing dress is just the thing for easygoing summer style as the weather gets warmer. It is getting warmer, right?!
I have something of an unusual shape, small back size but big cup size so I’m really picky about what bras I’ll go for. Freya bras are the only ones that consistently give a shape I’m happy with. With it’s dotty pattern and lacy detailing, this nursing bra is anything but frumpy.
This form fitting lace maternity dress is probably the sort of thing I’m looking for wedding-wise. I’m not totally sure about the colour “berry” for me but I do love the look of it.
While I love getting my teeth stuck into bigger craft projects – I have a few on the go at the moment – there’s something surprisingly satisfying about quick projects that yield great effect with little effort.
So when Harveys Furniture sent me a few swatches from their sofas range with the challenge to use the fabric to craft a home accessory. I’m a sucker for little boxes so decided to quickly decorate a matchbox fit to hold the odd trinket. They have a fun quiz at the moment to find your “shape” with Sofas by You. I unsurprisingly got “comfort”!
A pair of pinking shears
Glue gun with glue stick
Stick the fabric to each side of the matchbox. Do the same on the other side.
Cut off any excess with pinking shears and repeat on the uncovered side. Le voila! A cute, handy little box for storing pins, jewellery or any other little bits you want to give a sweet home to live.
I keep finding myself responding to any of the question “How’s the pregnancy going?” with “Fine, thanks. Just tired.” It’s not totally inaccurate.
Even compared to my own two previous pregnancies, I’m physically feeling positively spectacular to the point of sometimes forgetting that I’m even pregnant. That is if you don’t count the fact that I almost always need the toilet and even if you don’t see me making millions of bathroom trips when we’re out and about, you can bet “Need a wee” is there on my mental list of things I’m trying hard to ignore.
When I say “tired”, though, I mean crushingly exhausted. By 2pm most days all I can think of is lying on the sofa and letting the kids do their thing, checking in with me now and then. Any afternoon activity that requires my involvement has become something I will pay for later, usually by needing a 7pm bedtime, which means stuff that needs to get done in the evenings does not get done.
That has a knock on effect with the other thing I’m not saying in “Fine, thanks. Just tired.” I know that I’m a bit depressed. I have been for a while.
Most days involve mustering all of me to get out of bed, stay out of bed, do the basics and try to be present with my kids. It helps that we have commitments to meet with other people most days and even if I don’t talk about what’s going on, the company and the change of scene help.
Heaviness and hurt walk around with me most days, with a little anxiety joining us when I’m not expecting it. I find myself obsessing over every detail of the day when I wake up for the loo in the middle of the night. What happened? What did I get wrong? Why did I say that?
There is actual stuff going on in my life that I can’t talk about here but mostly, I have every reason to be happy. And I am. I enjoy my children and my husband immensely, work has slowed but is still coming in here and there (probably for the best with the lack of time and energy), we are comfortable and I am really looking forward to meeting this baby.
The girls have dubbed her “Butterfly”. “Heh-oh, Buh-fy!” Ophelia says to my tummy, stroking and kissing it. Who could but melt? She really does seem to understand there’s a baby in there now.
On the flip side, I find myself getting needlessly stressed over small day-to-day details, I am irritable with my family, I often feel like I’m not doing anything well, I am not enjoying getting bigger, needing to wee all the time, having little energy, and at 22 weeks pregnant, I’m still scared about what adding another child to this family means.
She is unquestionably wanted but the thought of spreading my resources in yet another direction, of establishing breastfeeding again, of sleepless nights, of coping with my other two children’s changing needs, of helping my Ophelia transition from being the baby of the family, of delaying other things I want to do a bit longer, of the general upheaval that comes with a new baby, of the thousand other things I can’t help worrying about…
No amount of anyone saying, “You’ll be fine” actually sates these thoughts. Because along with some of the perfectly valid stuff on my mind trundles a whole load that doesn’t make any rational sense, not even to me. Yet they are taking up as much space. And that’s probably because I am so often feeling like I’m not coping right now.
At the same time, it’s been difficult to identify for myself that something is up, rather than that I’m just being a bit pathetic. This isn’t like the crushing lows I experienced pre-kids years ago where I was literally out of action and needed to be medicated or else.
I have been depressed at times since having children but I’ve somehow managed, as I am now, to keep going, even if I am operating at a lower level than is normal for me. So, I’ve remained reticent, questioning how bad it has to be before I can call it what I know deep down it still is, depression.
I see the strangeness in being unable to say this face to face yet being willing to speak it into a computer screen, knowing that people who do and don’t know me will read it. It’s been a back and forth debate over whether to talk about it here either.
Anything I write about here opens me up to criticism and well-meaning but sometimes misguided attempts to solve a problem that can’t be solved by someone else. It’s one of the reasons I tend to only blog about the hard bits of parenting through the lens of what I feel I am learning from them or once I’ve reached some sort of resolution I can reflect on.
Yet even though I’m only at the point of knowing that I need to do something, I feel it’s worth sharing in case it helps someone else feel less alone, and that maybe it’s OK to not be OK.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m in the middle of giving the house an overhaul – for my sanity as much as anything else. We switched the girls’ room with the guest room and that’s made a huge difference to the amount of storage they have and freed up some much needed space in our own room.
Now I’m on a mission to massively declutter as I realise owning too much is affecting so many areas of our lives from money we waste to my daily stress levels. We’re literally suffering under a tyranny of “things”. So I’m being ruthless a room at a time and already it’s hugely changing the way I feel about our home.
The next job is to get through the mounting list of items that need to be repaired or upcycled. I’ve organised this in order of whatever is annoying me the most on a daily basis (handles that have fallen off, chipping paint, that kind of thing).
I’m also in the middle of re-organising shelves and walls while having a bit of fun styling them. I’ve been inspired by Oyster & Pearl to have a go at colour co-ordinating books and trying different layouts. I also love the way Owl and Accordion brings nature indoors with effortless style.
So it’s quite fitting to get in on Wayfair‘s Spring Shelfie challenge to crack on with waking up our home from a rather dreary winter. My “shelfie” above features a scatter frame set, this owl lamp and this pale blue ceramic jug from their collection.
I’ve also thrown in washed up coral I’ve collected from beaches and little pieces we’ve collected over the years. The lilies were a just because gift from Laurence, a real treat because we have a long-running joke about him never buying me flowers.
I can’t tell you it’s cheered me to rearrange a few shelves. A few more shelves, a few more things off the spring cleaning list and it just might feel Spring really is on its way.
Items featured provided by Wayfair for the purpose of this post
“Shall we go to this?” Laurence’s text read. Cue a photograph of the flyer for a local Wassail. He’d never heard the word before but I had. I used to list them for a little online ‘zine I worked for some years ago in the quirky town of Lewes, where amusing British traditions never die. I’d always thought they looked like great fun so I penciled it in.
Wrapped up in all the layers (I wax evangelical about my knitted wool socks and merino thermals I bought from Cambridge Baby. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have been subject to this), we grabbed some ribbons and headed to the community orchard where it was all going down.
There was singing and recorder playing a-plenty. So merry, in fact, that I considered for one mad moment that maybe I would be OK with teaching Talitha to play the recorder. Reality hit me on our way home so no such thing has been purchased. Visions of my four-and-a-half-year-old and 23-month-old fighting over a glorified whistle, indiscriminately tooting the day away still make me cringe.
Meanwhile, the children all got stuck in with decorating two of the apple trees that were being “blessed”. A Wassail is essentially a celebration in hope of a good harvest. It now remains an opportunity for communities to get together, get outdoors and connect with the seasons.
We took a break to grab some cake, mulled apple juice for the girls and I and mulled cider for Laurence. Then the morris dancing started. I have to admit, I love a bit of morris dancing. I get irrationally excited over it – the sight of it, rather, I actually can’t do it at all.
In fact, I went along to a friends morris dancing side’s practice to try it once and discovered that I was particularly inept. It looked so simple and like so much fun but alas, I wound up rather confused. I still have a real soft spot for watching it, though, and luckily the kids found it fascinating. Talitha was particularly interested in the accordion they were dancing along to.
A bit more ribbon tying, playing with a random child (I love how kids do this!) and we decided we better head off and make supper. The girls absolutely did not agree and in retrospect, we should have stayed a bit longer, maybe cosied over by the fire, struck up a conversation with a few more people and let them run around some more. Ah, retrospect. Next time.
In case you’ve reached the end of a series and are wondering where to next, here’s what we’ve been watching on Netflix recently…
A guilty pleasure
I’ve been making my way through The Tudors. I watched it here and there back when it aired for the first time when I was doing my MA in Early Modern Literature and Culture but I could never allow myself to get into it. I think I found it contrived (which it is) and liberal with history (also true). Perhaps I needed the distance of time to enjoy it for what it is, a sexy take on an exciting point in British history. I can hardly believe that I didn’t like it because I find it utterly addictive now! Amusingly, Laurence has watched a couple of episodes with me and identified Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell in Game of Thrones, whereas I kept looking at her in Thrones and thinking, there’s Anne Boleyn.
Laugh out loud funny
I don’t think Laurence is going to join me with The Tudors anytime soon but both of us are hooked on Master of None, ironically named because the indie-style Netflix original comedy certainly is masterful. It’s literally one of the funniest shows I’ve seen in years, thought-provoking, elegantly executed and offers a consistent flow of laugh out loud moments. Bring us much, much more Aziz Ansari, please!
One for the kids
I asked Talitha what she’s been enjoying on Netflix lately and unsurprisingly, she chose to recommend to you “the elephant magic hat show”, ie. Ella the Elephant. Aimed at 4+, it’s a sweet, gentle series following the adventures of Ella and her friends on Elephant Island, with a strong focus on helping each other. Importantly for my sensitive 4-year-old, there’s absolutely nothing scary in it. Hopefully, we’ll looking into the book series it’s based on some time soon.
Where to next
Everyone is going on and on about Making a Murderer, a documentary in which a man is exonerated after serving 18 years for sexual assault and attempted murderand soon after convicted of murder in suspicious circumstances. It’s definitely next on the list.
What have you been watching lately? Any recommendations?
I didn’t really go in for New Year’s resolutions this year. With a third baby on the way and continuing our home education journey, survival felt a reasonable enough goal.
However, I do have a few things I vaguely want to give a bit more attention this year. One is to “make” more. My parents gave me a sewing machine for Christmas and I’m looking forward to learning to use it. Picking up crochet again last year was a bit of a revelation.The other is to majorly declutter because the tyranny of stuff in our house (too much we don’t even use!) is doing my head in. And the last is where this post comes in. I want to buy things I won’t end up throwing away.
After trying everything we could last year to rehome a sofa that had become an eyesore, and failing, I finally accepted that we had to get the council to take it and that it would most likely end up in landfill. I was gutted about it but I’d tried dyeing it, it was too expensive and awkward to reupholster, I didn’t feel up to the job myself and no one, absolutely no one wanted it.
We’ve since been given another sofa (a sofa bed in fact) that will see us through the next few years and this time I’m trying to keep it in good enough nick to pass on to someone but eventually (read: when the kids are older), we probably will go looking at new sofas.
When we do, the principles I plan to apply relate to just about any big purchase you want to ensure won’t end up in landfill. Obviously they may not reasonably apply to everything. However, there are a lot of things that we probably could spare throwing away with a little more thought from the outset. Before clicking through to PayPal or whacking out my debit card, here’s what I’ll be thinking about:
Is it built to last? What is it made of and how well is it made? How well are the materials and structure likely to last – bearing in mind we have kids and cats in the house?
Is it timeless? Am I likely to change my mind about it in years to come? How well will it accommodate changing needs?
How well does it clean? Is cleaning straightforward or will I need specialist products or services to do it?
Can I fix or upcycle it? Is it structured in such a way that it can be repaired if not by me then by a local craftsperson?
Does it come with a guarantee?
Can I pass it on? What would I need to do to make sure I can sell, donate or give it away? Is this realistic?
Over to you. What do you think about when making a big purchase? Do you have any other ideas for keeping big items out of landfill?
This is a collaborative post. See my disclosure for more details.
Photo from StockSnap.io