Category: Little Musings

Hello January, Hello 2017

Lots of people go mad in January.  Not as many as in May, of course. Nor June. But January is your third most common month of madness.

Karen Joy Fowler, Sarah Kanary

And so Christmas and the New Year has come and gone.  I don’t know about you, but it always feels like it happens in a bit of a blur, like a photograph taken in motion, a fusion of colours and memories, over and done with, until the next Christmas.  Hope everyone has had a lovely time, albeit the madness.

Ah January, hello you, broody-grey-skies and cold, you.  It’s the time of the year where everything seems to happen in slow-motion, especially the days and all the noises, the ticking of the clock, a phone ringing in an empty house is amplified, as if the sound is in your head.  No, I haven’t gone bonkers, at least, I don’t think so.  But that’s how I feel at the moment.  The Historian has gone off and dropped my cousin at the University of Reading.  He also has a meeting tomorrow, so it’s just me, Doc and Boots bumbling along together in this cold-bleak January day.  T comes home later, only then will the house awaken.

Back to Basics

I’ve also decided to go back to basics with this whole blogging business.  Last year, I thought I’d give it a go and try to make it more “commercial”, whatever that means.  I fell in a rabbit hole of blogging groups and learning about DAs, and pumping up your stats and all that and the more I did it, the more I felt that every fibre in me was protesting, so I’m done with that now.  Don’t get me wrong though, while I loved the community and the bloggers behind them, in the end, it just became too much for me.

I guess it also comes down to personality.  I’ve always been a solo person.  I like doing my own thing and I’ve also been blogging on and off for more than a decade now.  Does anyone remember blogspot?  I guess that also shows my age…

I’m going back to writing the way I want, because I have this need to write.

I’m not going to be a hypocrite though and say that I’m going to stop accepting sponsored and collaborative posts.  If they come and it’s a good fit with Little Steps, I will say yes.  I’ve learned though to be choosy on what projects and fees to accept.  At the moment, admittedly most of the time, I decline the offers especially when it is too low.

Dear PRs, I do value my time and what I do and write in this little blog of mine.  No, I won’t just accept your offer, even though you all act as if I should be thrilled with the fact that you’ve gotten in touch.  Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way and no, I don’t accept follow-links.  Thank you for getting in touch with Little Steps.

I’m still going to join a few linkies like #countrykids, mostly because I’m friends with the blogger who runs it.  I have a couple of other favourites too like #animaltales and #wotw.  Linkies I’ve been joining in the past couple of years, I do enjoy linking-up with these lovely bloggers.

That’s what 2017 holds for me – going back to the basics, finding my voice again, being authentic.  I wish I could declare that I have big dreams or plans for 2017.  But I don’t.  Like most frustrated writers, I still have that unwritten novel in my head, countless short-stories to edit and write, poems screaming to be written.  I’m afraid I have forsaken my muse.  I’m ready to go down on my knees and plead with her/him – so mote it be.

Any big plans for 2017?

The Story Behind some of our Christmas Decorations

I got this idea of buying a special Christmas tree decoration each year and allowing T to choose it from one of my oldest blogger friend Kate of Did That Just Happen Blog.  She did it with her son who is all grown up now and is in University.  Today she has a Christmas tree filled with wonderful memories!  I love that idea.

We started when T was three-years-old, I wish I had started when she was one.  But better late than never.

This was her first ever special decoration, we got it in a National Trust property where she also met her first Tudor Father Christmas, you can read all about it here.

In 2014, we spent Christmas with my in-laws at Woburn Sands.  While there we visited Frosts Garden centre to specifically choose a special Christmas tree ornament, luckily they were on sale.  T choose a vintage Father Christmas and Christmas Reindeer:

This is made of glass and is very delicate.  I used to decorate our kitchen in the old house, so of course, I also did it this year, especially since it’s the first room you’ll see once you step in our front-door.

I’ve decorated it with a garland and hang some of my glass baubles including the vintage Father Christmas.  Not clear on the photo is the vintage Christmas reindeer seen on the left side.

And of course, also decorated the mantel shelf above the kitchen fire.

Yes, I also have Christmas crockery, some of them were given to me by my lovely in-laws.  They know how much I love anything to do with Christmas.

And this was last year’s special choice:  Mr. and Mrs. Clause kissing.

And this year’s choice was a very sparkly penguin.  T said her Christmas rabbit needed a friend.  She bought that when we picked up our tree from the tree farm and that is why, when you have a small child, it’s impossible to have a “theme” going on in your Christmas tree.  I think all parents with young children have the “everything-and-anything-goes-theme”.

Now for my favourite Christmas tree ornaments:

I have a thing for glass Christmas ornaments, especially baubles.  I blame my mother for this, yes, she loves them too.  I couldn’t sleep last night, so I had the iPad in bed and was browsing through M&S’ website and was drooling over their Christmas decors which were on sale.  I told my husband about it this morning and he laughed and teased me and called it “Dean’s Christmas Porn” and then told me to just buy the blimming baubles, so I went online to purchase them and of course, they’re all gone.  Story of my life.

And I adore this little breakable Father Christmas, also vintage-looking.

I also love this angel ornament which I bought when we visited St. Michael’s mount in Penzance more than a few years ago.  I have this feeling though that it isn’t really a Christmas decoration, but is actually the Archangel Michael who supposedly appeared before local fishermen on the mount in the 5th century.  I don’t really care, I love seeing it up there on our tree.

And then there’s this tacky Christmas fire-guard my husband bought in Trelawney, a garden centre nearby.  There’s a little story attached to this one.  The Historian bought this fireguard not for this house, but for another house which had an open-fire and two wood-burning stoves.  We were supposed to move into it early this year.  We were all packed and about to exchange when the house-sale fell through.  If you’ve been following me for some time now, you  may have just read about the whole fiasco in past posts.

When we moved in our present home, my husband looked at our gas-fire and said, I’m still using that blimming Christmas fire guard  even if you all point and laugh.  To be fair, nobody is pointing and laughing, but yep it’s out and is staying there all through out the Christmas season, whether I have a say or not.

What about you?

Do you do this tradition?  Or have one of your own?

Saying Goodbye to Chats with Mums and Dads

When I first started the series four years ago, I primarily did it because I was curious about how other parents managed this whole parenthood business.  I needed some advice, T was barely two-years-old and I didn’t really have any close mum friends back then.  I wanted to know other parents’ thoughts and their opinions.

The first year, I began featuring my friends who were based all over the world, most of them weren’t even bloggers.  It was only during the middle of 2013 when I started interviewing parent bloggers, and my first one was a Chat with a Dad: The Secret Father.  (Do scroll down to read his interview).  I didn’t feature only UK bloggers, but reached out to parent bloggers from all over the globe as well.  Do have a little nosey around and read each post when you have the time.

I hate goodbyes, who doesn’t?  I just feel that the series has come to its natural end.  Paulo Coelho was so right when he wrote:

It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn’t matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over.

But before I forget I’d like to say thank you to all of those who have been featured, my friends and of course to past bloggers who went on this little series of mine, even though I’m really just a little unknown blogger.  THANK YOU!  

I’m not going to delete the series from my blog, so it will still be here if anyone would be interested in reading them.  You’ll find lots of inspiring quotes about parenthood and how parents cope.  I know I did, though some bloggers I just found out aren’t even blogging anymore, and some are not just that active either, but still definitely worth a read!

I love what Pieter, a parent blogger from South Africa wrote (Click on Ah Dad below for full interview)

But being away from them, and feeling that gigantic hole in my heart as I sit on a plane, that is the one thing crappy thing about being a dad. You know those moments when you realise part of your essence is missing”

Or what Katie Kirby of Hurrah for Gin said when asked “If you could give yourself advice about motherhood, before becoming one what would it be? (scroll down and click on Hurrah for Gin to read full interview)

I wish I could tell myself to enjoy the early days and cuddles without worrying, they go so quickly! When I see people with tiny babies sleeping on their chests I feel sad that I ever thought it was more important to get them to nap in a basket”

2013

Kala Barba Court

Maria Mambo

Asanempoka

Melissa Queyquep

Cristina Delakovias

The Secret Father

Surprise Mama

Pecora Nera

Sonya Cisco

Motherhood is an Art

The Adventures of Sonny and Luca

Mom Solo

2014

Hurrah for Gin

Life as a Widower

3 Children and It

Mutterings of a Fool

Did That Just Happen?

Ah Dad

My Toddler Rules

Daddy Space

The Vanilla Housewife

Jogging Dad

Life in the Wylde West

Slouching Towards Thatcham

2015

Circus Queen (Now called Beautiful Tribe)

Chasing Wilderness

Mummy Tries

Snoozing on the Sofa

Solo Mama

One Dad 3 Girls

Space for the Butterflies

Northern Dad

Free Range Chick

Living in the Langhe

Wild About Here

Goodbye Pert Breasts

2016

The Comeback Mum

One Good Dad

Coombe Mill

Danny UK, the Bearded Blogger

Chasing Esme

Looking for the Postman

PODcast

M & M’s Daddy

Five Little Doves

Man VS Pink

Absolutely Prabulous

OMG It’s A Girl

A big thank you to those who’ve followed the series through out all the years!

All About the Cold

I knew when we first moved in our new home that it would be colder than in our old house where it was always snug and cozy.  In the winter, friends who’d visit would always comment on how warm our house was as soon as they entered.  We lived in a terraced house back then, that’s why.  Now we live in a detached house with no neighbours.  In spite the central heating, and two fires in the kitchen and living room, I’m still cold all the bloody time.  To be fair though, both fires aren’t on all the time.  We only put them on when we’re using the rooms.  What’s the point in wasting the fire if there isn’t anyone in?  Sometimes I think we only heat the rooms for our pets.  Thank goodness for wooly socks.  I love them.

In spite the cold, T still complains that she’s feeling warm.  What’s it with these kids?  When it’s cold, they complain about being warm.  I can understand when they’re running around like loonies, of course all that energy burnt will keep them warm, but at night?  Apparently, T isn’t the only one, a few  of my mum friends commented that their little ones are exactly the same.

And speaking of the cold, I’m noticing mold have started to show up in some of our walls and ceilings.  I try to wipe them off as soon as I notice them, but before long, they are there again.  Sigh.

***

I think I’m slowly getting into the Christmas spirit.  We’re going away in the first weekend of December, so my husband said that it would be okay to start decorating this weekend.  Normally, I’d do the dance of joy, but he was surprised when all he got was an “Oh okay”.

I’m hoping to be able to drop by our favourite garden centre after T’s ballet on Saturday.  They have a fabulous Christmas display and items.   I’m sure that will do the trick.

What about you?

Any exciting plans this week?

The Reading Residence

Five Christmas Gift Ideas for the Book Worm

I once did a “Five Valentine’s Gift Suggestions for the Book Worm“, since it’s almost Christmas, and  I’m trying to get myself into a festive mood, I decided to pen another one for the gift-giving season.  Let’s see if this will get me into the Chrissmassy mood.

I’m starting my list with books.  After all, it is a list for the book lovers.  It’s no secret how much I love beautifully made books, especially once with lovely illustrations.  I’m slowly building up my Folio Books Collection, they are all a dream.

 Hansel and Gretel, by the Brothers Grim

If you follow me over at Instagram, you’d probably noticed I posted a photo of this book already.  Sadly, I don’t have it … yet.  It’s a bit pricey at £250 but if you’re a book collector, I think it is so much worth it.  It’s not advisable though to buy it for your child, or maybe for older kids who know how to take care of books.

This beautifully illustrated book has 12 colourful plates reproduced from the copy of the first edition and text is printed on Caxton  wove paper.  I think it’s absolutely beautiful.  When I’m gone, I won’t be able to leave T a lot of money (unless I win the lottery), nor expensive jewellery (a few trinkets perhaps).  Rest assured though that she will have lovely books to hopefully, leave to her children too.

I Am” Sylvia Plath Necklace

While I’m not a big fan of words in a necklace (Is there even a term for that?), I do love this Sylvia Plath one.  For those who love poetry, or if you like Plath like I do, you might want to have this on your list.  It’s a quotation from her first novel “I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart.  I am. I am. I am”.  It’s solid brass with 9 ct gold plating and can be extended if you prefer a longer necklace.  This book was like a bible to me when I was a teenager, her words will always be special.

I’ve had this on my list for the longest time and it’s always out of stock, luckily it seems to be on stock at the moment.

sylvia_plath

Alice in Wonderland White Rabbit Lampshade

I love anything book-inspired, though admittedly don’t really have much of it.  Would love to have this White Rabbit lampshade.  For the price of £115, I’m just glad they included the cushion cover!

alice_in_wonderland_lamp

I do have a white wicker chair already.  All I need is that lovely lamp and cushion.

Wool Blanket

And of course, imagine being curled up in that arm-chair with this lovely soft Kilnsey Wool British made blanket wrapped around your legs in a chilly winter evening, kids asleep upstairs, with the Alice in Wonderland lamp on, giving you just the right amount to read your book, at the same time casting a lovely ambience in the room.  Now that’s what I call bliss.

Wool Blanket

Go Away I’m Reading Mug

And lastly, what’s a gift idea list without including a mug, right?  Priced at £8.99 – this lovely bone china mug is perfect for coffee, tea or hot chocolate, curled up in that white arm-chair (pictured above), legs wrapped in that wooly blanket, with your favourite book and the world outside, can disappear even for just a while.  And if anyone disturbs you, just point to your mug.  No need for words.

Remember, some times even book lovers like a variety of presents, not just books, but that won’t apply if you’re buying them Folio books. But then again, that’s just me.

Did you see anything you like from my list?

Are You feeling “Christmassy” yet?

I’m not.

Is “Christmassy” even a word?

Yesterday, as we got into the car to take T to her gymnastics class, Christmas songs filled the air.  I looked at my husband, and he said “Don’t look at me.  Blame her!” pointing at T who was busy mucking about with her friend in the car.”  Apparently, the-not-so-little-one has managed to find the Christmas CD which was part of her Now That’s What I call Disney CD which I thought I had hidden away.

Off we went as the song “Jingle Bells” blasted through the car, with me gritting my teeth, thank goodness, her new gym club isn’t that far from where we live.  I don’t think I’d survive the car ride if it were longer that 20 mins without turning into the Grinch.

I’m not just feeling the Christmas vibe just yet, which is a bit unusual, because I’m someone who loves and embraces everything about Christmas.  My husband recently brought all our decors from the shed because the boxes were being nibbled by mice.  If I were my “normal” self, I’d take this as a signal that it was okay to start decking the house with Christmas garlands with the husband protesting in the background and reminding me that “We agreed the first of December, remember?!”  And of course, I’d completely ignore him.

Nope, not feeling Christmassy yet.  In spite the Christmas adverts being shown on TV.  I finally saw the controversial John Lewis Christmas ad and found it really cute.  It didn’t upset or annoy me at all. But I did understand why some parents might be bothered about it.  If T asked me, I’d say. “The trampoline was from Santa, but he didn’t have time to set-it-up so  he asked the Dad to do it for him.  After all, he still has loads of presents to deliver all over the world right?” And she would believe me.

My mum sent me a photo of her beautiful Christmas tree.  Again, normally I’d feel really envious but I just admired it from afar and didn’t have the urge to go and pester my husband to get one before the agreed dates.

We’ve decided that it’s okay to decorate the house in the first of December.  We also have this Christmas tradition every year, where we go to a Christmas tree farm and choose a special tree.  But this happens usually on the second week of December.

What about you?

When do you start decorating your house and putting up your tree?

The Reading Residence

Strange Times

The results of the election in the States seemed to have enveloped one part of the world in a dark cloud.  It’s such a strange world we live in now.  Like many, I was upset about the results, mostly because I’m worried about my family living there:  even though they are American citizens, they are an easy target all because of the way they look and when you have a man who seems to demonstrate all the worst “isms” in life become President of that country, what are their chances?  They might as well draw a bull’s eye on their foreheads.

When my husband woke me up on Wednesday morning to tell me the results of the elections, I wanted to grab my daughter and start digging a hole so deep and keep her there until it’s safe to come out again.  I don’t want her to grow up in a world where it’s okay to be a misogynist and sexually assault women and yet be elected President of the  most powerful country in the world.

This morning, I wanted to wake up and realise that yesterday was a bad dream.  That it wasn’t our reality.  But I’ve been here before.  We had our own elections in the Philippines months ago.  Just like everywhere, clearly our people were tired of the political elite ruling our country and wanted change.  Like the Americans they thought they could turn to a demigod, a man they thought they could trust even though he made rape-jokes and thought that he could get away with it, by apologising later on and claiming it was all humour, just like Trump who called it “locker-room” talk.  And now that man has sold my country to China. He and his supporters have re-written our history by allowing a former dictator to be given a heroes burial.  A dictator who robbed my country clean, who killed thousands, among them, a poet, the father of one of my closest friends, and also the husband of my mum’s best-friend right in front of her, forcing her to pull the trigger, when she couldn’t do it.  They just shot him, but not before using her bellybutton as an ash tray. That very same day, she lost her baby too.  The same one who tortured my own mother when she was an activist during his time.  I guess, I ought to be thankful that they didn’t kill her. Is that all for nought?  Really?

We live in such strange times indeed.  My sister said in jest, the world is ending.  I replied to her seriously and said “No, it can’t end.  We have our kids to think of!”  After all, it’s our children who will have to live with the mistakes of our past.  And here I was thinking that I’ve had it with gloomy thoughts.  Can you blame me?

Dear World,

No more bad news please.

The Reading Residence

Seasonally Lonely

Before moving to England, I’ve never heard of S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder) before.  When I did, I laughed. Yes, I actually laughed and couldn’t believe that there was such a term.  But having lived here for almost a decade, I understand now.

I know now how the short days and seemingly endless not to mention cold nights can do to ones emotional being and mental health.  How even the days can be so dreary, just looking out the window will want to make you want to weep.

How little things that can happen, or careless words said in the summer when they days are longer, carefree and bright, and therefore can be brushed aside and deemed not important.  When the days are short and the nights are long, those words can sting you, and wound you so deep, if left untended, can and will fester all through out the winter.

In past posts, I wrote about what I arm myself with to ward off the gloom.  I turn to comedy and humour.   I try to focus on the smallest joys like wooly socks that keeps your feet nice and toasty.  In the month of November, we have the promise of Christmas, even though it can be madness too, up till the 25th, at least our minds are preoccupied about lists to tick off and presents to buy.  January though can be a bit tricky, especially once the decors have been taken down and the house suddenly looks bare.  Thirty-one bloody days of bleakness.  Luckily February is a short one and down here in Cornwall, Spring comes early.  If we’re lucky again this year, the daffodils will come springing up even in mid-December like last year.

Knowing how much I missed the music of my past, my husband bought me a collection of Rickie Lee Jones CDs.  And as much as I love her, she can be bloody depressing (see previous post).  I’m sorry Rickie.  You will have to collect dust for now.  I’ll take you out in the summer.  For now, I’m only going to listen to Highlife.  Ghanaian music always makes me think of good friendships, the sun, festivals, and dancing, even if it’s looking desolate outside.  Enough of my ramblings and navel gazing.

What about you?

What helps you get rid of the blues?

Postscript:  I drafted this post last night.  My husband woke me up about the latest news that’s happening across the globe.  I’m afraid not even Highlife can cheer me up now.  Whoopie-bloody-doo-dah.  We live in such strange times.

A Little Bit of Rambling

I think Winter is slowly inching its way in, nudging Autumn on the side.  The air is chiller now and our windows are always framed in frost.  It does paint a pretty picture though, especially when you have a lovely view of the country outside.

frost

And since it’s the first week of November, I’ve been seeing a lot of posts about Christmas already.  I must confess, I do love Christmas and everything that goes with it.  At the moment though, I’m thinking, this is happening way too soon as if someone has pressed the fast-forward button.  I need it to slow down just a little bit.  While I love decorating the house up in lovely Christmas lights and all that, I shudder at the thought of the madness that happens up till the 25th of December.

***

I’ve also been busy raking leaves in our garden.  I go out bundled up in my thick coat and wellies, complete with wooly hat, gloves and a scarf.  After raking for some time, I find myself peeling off the layers.  Raking makes good exercise.  I’m glad I talked my husband out of buying good rakes instead of a leaf-vac, so far, the novelty hasn’t worn off yet.

***

In other news, we’ve finally managed to book tickets to see Matilda in London this December.  This was actually included in my summer bucket list but we didn’t get around to going.  I’m glad we’re finally going to see the show since I’ve only heard great reviews about it.  Also, we’ve never used AirBnb before, but decided to give it a try for our night’s stay in the capital.  Hopefully it will be a good experience for us.  Now all we have to do is book Doc into a kennel and we’re all good.

***

I’ve been listening a lot to Rickie Lee Jones again, and I can’t seem to get the song “Autumn Leaves” off my head.  I love, love, love the bass in the this song.  I know, not exactly cheerful is it?  I need one that will make me think of sunshine and warmth.

 What about you?

Are you ready for winter/Christmas?

Moments

Our lives, our memories are made up of little moments …

***

Just as I was about to strap T in the car to go trick or treating with her friends last Monday, she bent forward and vomited all over her lovely La Muerte dress.  It looked like liquid chocolate on her black dress, which spilled into her orange pumpkin bag.  Her little friend who came over for a play date exclaimed “Oh T, you’ve got the bug now!”  And my little girl burst into tears, just as the afternoon was fading and the night was creeping in.

***

It was our wedding anniversary last Sunday and in the car, on our way to Truro, I turned to my husband who was driving and said “Guess how much I love you?”  How much?  he asked, humouring me.  I replied “more than infinite!”.

At the corner of my eye, I saw the T’s facial expression change.  She was hurt.  The look of betrayal was all over her.  This is our thing.  Every night just as I tuck her in, we go through our dialogues:

“On the day you were born”.  She replies with “It was the happiest day of your life”.  Followed with a “Guess how much I love you?”  Her answer is always “More than infinite!”.

“You know I love you more than infinite too, just like your dad, right?”  I said to her as I reached out and held her hand in mine. She nodded her little head and the hurt was gone.

“She smiled and said with an ecstatic air: “It shines like a little diamond”,
“What does?”
“This moment. It is round, it hangs in empty space like a little diamond; I am eternal.”
– Jean-Paul Sartre, The Age of Reason

 The Reading Residence