I can't quite believe it is New Year's Eve already. It feels like I blinked and the past 3 months disappeared somewhere. So much has happened in 2013 that it feels only right to do a proper review of the year, and the only way I know how to start this is to go back through my blog and see what I wrote about!
A couple of times this year I have come very close to giving up blogging. I just do not have the time to blog anymore. Working almost full-time, raising a toddler, and fighting a battle with the doctors for some answers to my husband's health issues takes up an awful lot of time and energy. But when I look back through the past year's post I remember just why I love blogging so much! I have a record of where we have been and that is so precious.
For me, blogging has changed though. It has almost come full circle in a way. When I began blogging way back in 2006 it was about keeping a journal. Gradually it developed into a way to build up a portfolio which led to freelance writing and some great connections. But since having Little Man I have struggled to decide which way to take my blog. But now that I have two jobs which I love (but which take up a huge amount of time) I have had to let go of the social media, connection side of blogging and simply keep it as a way of recording our lives together. And that is okay. It's just a bit strange to suddenly stop thinking about proactively making connections with people and just blog as and when I can.
My focus has changed as well... throughout the years I have blogged about various causes such as Endometriosis and Hyperemesis as my blog provided me with a platform to do this. But since I took this a step further and started working on the book about Hyperemesis and then began working for Pregnancy Sickness Support, my blog felt like the wrong place to do this. And I began to find I simply wanted to write more about crafts and the home than anything else. And as we begin 2014 with a search for a new home, this seems like quite an apt time to change the focus in this way.
But my blog has always been a real mixture of topics and this is clearly portrayed in the posts I have written throughout 2013. So let's have a look at some of the most memorable parts of this past year...
December 2012... leading in to 2013
It started with a post written just before 2012 ended... I wrote about how I felt 2013 was a year full of hope and new beginnings and it truly was. Throughout the year TJ changed careers, I found a co-author for my book, I began a second job, and TJ got a new job within the company he now works for. Little Man also changed childcare and it was the best move we ever made for him. So lots of new beginnings did indeed happen this past year.
Shortly after that I wrote a blog post about how I felt I had almost lost myself to the pain, fear and depression caused by several years of ill health. It began with a poem, "The Darkened Room" which I shared in this post.
Shortly after that I wrote a post about the government's More Great Childcare report. I wrote about my own thoughts on the matter, as a parent and as someone who had both worked in childcare and now had a child in childcare (whilst I worked for an Early Years Consultant and saw what best practise really could be like!) Throughout 2013 I have become more and more frustrated by the government's view on childcare and education and I dread to think what effect this is all going to have on our children and those whose passion for childcare and/or education is blighted by governmental policy!
In February, our house was broken into whilst we slept. The burglars actually came upstairs and went into Little Man's room (where my sister was staying the night!) It was a stomach-churning discovery the following morning and it was the beginning of the end of us staying in the house we currently live in (because, hey, who expects to wait 10 months for a new front door that was promised to you by the landlord when the police told you your front door wasn't very secure?) Anyway, during that awful week of dealing with police visits and phone calls to the insurance company, I decided to try and find some joy by finding happiness in the little things.
Little Man's obsession with numbers began very early on. His first words spoken regularly and in context were 3, 4 and 5. I wrote about this way back in February last year. Now, aged 2, he can count to 100 in English (mostly on his own, but he gets stuck around the 60s and 70s), and to 10 in German. He has started actually writing numbers down with a pen and paper (which I find astonishing) and he loves trying to hold up the right number of fingers when we talk about how many cars he has. He also loves letters almost as much as his numbers and can recognise the words "cat", "dog" and "bed" when written down, as well as his own name and "mummy" and "daddy". When I wrote this post last year I thought maybe it was a phase... now I know he just loves numbers more than pretty much anything else!
Just before TJ started his new job and was still working shifts, I wrote about how hard I found balancing the things I had to do with the things I wanted to do. It took an evening of laying quietly in the dark, snuggled up to my baby boy to realise how precious these moments are and how much time there will be in the future for all the other things. This is something I have to remind myself of constantly, as I tend to take on far too many things and try to fit way too much into my life and want it all to be happening right now!
One of the things that I decided to cut out following that post was Social Media. This was perhaps the turning point in which my blogging journey began to change. I decided that I would give up Social Media for lent and it was actually quite a freeing experience!
My next post was a real turning point and it seems that when I read it all back now I can see that the two posts I have previously spoken about were paving the way for me to take the time to stop and really listen to my heart and find out what was most important to me. Suddenly, I began to find acceptance in the decision to never have any more children and that could only have happened as a result of my slowing down and realising just what I had and that I didn't need to strive for more!
This led directly to my Thoughts on Mothers Day about how truly lucky we were to have been able to have our "one and only".
This month I was also honoured to receive the "Very Inspiring Blogger Award" from the amazing Spewing Mummy (who is incidentally my new co-author on the book!) I hadn't seen one of these blogger to blogger awards for years and so it was really exciting to think about my favourite bloggers and pass it on to them too.
I then went on to Talk About One Child Families which led to some lovely discussions on Twitter (once Lent was over) and enabled me to create my page called "Just The One". It felt so good to connect with others who have made this decision to have an only child and made my heart feel a little bit lighter to know that Little Man would be far from the exception as I had once thought he might be (it seems one child families are on the rise!)
I also looked back at the crochet blankets I had made (some taking years to complete!) as I began to realise how much I loved the simplicity of a granny blanket.
April also saw Real Nappy Week and so I wrote a post about our experience using Cloth Nappies with a Heavy Wetter. I wasn't going to include this in the review of the year but then I realised that as we are beginning to potty train Little Man it is a journey I would like to reflect upon right now.
Once the summer arrived, I realised how much of a Nature Baby we have in Little Man... this makes me so excited for our move to a new home and hopefully a better garden for him to play and explore in.
In May I organised a charity auction for Pregnancy Sickness Support. So many wonderful handmade items were donated and you can see a selection of items in this post and this one. All in all we raised just over £300... I hope to maybe beat that this year!
When Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day finally arrived, I was moved to tears by the stories of others and it reminded me why I fight so hard to try and change the way women suffering from pregnancy sickness are treated.
June saw me really struggling with where I was going with my blog. I even wrote about my indecision over whether to continue blogging or not.
I also wrote about how much I was struggling healthwise at that time. Thankfully, though I am still struggling with my health, it has not deteriorated as I had feared at that time!
And then a fantastic weekend in London at BritMums Live reminded me why I love blogging (and the blogging community) so much and I decided to stick at it. Especially as I realised that other people not only thought it okay for me to share my heart and soul online but also told me they felt I should continue sharing as openly as I do! I even wrote about how inspired I was by others and how openly they shared their own thoughts and feelings.
This in turn led to sharing one of my favourite children's stories - The Adventures of Scamp. I wrote this year's ago for a friend and it felt good to finally share it properly somewhere.
And I ended the month with a "warts and all" visual show of how cluttered our house had become and my plans for creating more storage space. I never did share the end result, but as we are moving soon I may leave that until we get settled in our new home.
Although July seems too early to think about Christmas, I had a plan for a Handmade Christmas which meant I needed several months to make presents. I didn't quite manage it as the Nine Months Of campaign took over my crafting time, but around half of the presents I gave this year were handmade.
Talking of the Nine Months Of Campaign... July was the month I decided on a crochet challenge. I haven't blogged as many updates as I would have liked, but you can see those I have by clicking on this link.
At the end of the month I was overwhelmed by the generosity of Black Sheep Wools for their donation of 30 balls of yarn and one of their customers who donated a £25 gift card! I am just starting my second baby blanket using the second half of the donated yarn and so I am looking forward to using the gift card to replenish my supply for a third baby blanket in the New Year!
In August I began to refind my blogging feet and had huge plans to share updates on my crochet challenge. But a combination of helping to set up and run the campaign blog and then taking on a second job meant that whilst I continued my challenge I just didn't have the time to update like I wanted to. I hope to change this soon as I rebalance the demands on my time and actually take some photos of what I have been working on!
But before the mani rush of new blogs and new jobs caught up with me, I did find time to reflect on the culture and traditions we were building for our little family.
I also mused over the funny names Little Man chose for us - for a while I was known as "darling" rather than "mummy".
September was Little Man's birthday month. We began by having our first go at baking together. Little Man was rather bemused by the whole thing!
I then realised I hadn't shared any photos of Little Man in a long time and so family and friends were wondering what we had been up to. So I did a Great Big Photo Dump!
Just before Little Man's birthday (and also just before my interview for my new job) a cyst on my head got infected and burst and I spent a month with an open wound on my head which got infected twice. It was not a good month and I had a bit of a pity party for myself!!
But we managed to complete Little Man's Woodland Themed Bedroom just in time for his birthday, and I was so pleased with it I had to share it on the blog.
I then wrote Little Man a Letter for his Birthday. I hope to turn this into a yearly tradition.
I then went on an unplanned blogging break (which felt like much longer than a month!!) I was just completely overwhelmed by all that was happening at the time (as an indicator of how busy I was, the day I had my interview for the job at the end of September I had been to work in the morning, spent an hour getting home, had a quick lunch, had my interview via Skype, then had to rush out to have my wound repacked by the nurse, before rushing back to wrap Little Man's presents for his birthday the very next day!! And my days pretty much sped by that hectically for a good month or so.)
One of the other demands on my time was trying to get some answers regarding TJ's rather scary symptoms. He'd been having pain in his arms for years which had already resulted in 2 career changes. Suddenly he was complaining of sensory disturbances and pain in his feet as well. I wrote about this in a blog post entitled "And Now We Wait" which seems pretty apt as we are STILL waiting! We return to the GP in January to discuss a referral to a neurologist... or at least that is the plan.
TJ's health issues also brought home to me how important our decision to remain a one child family was. And in response to a post by Spewing Mummy I decided to write about the positives of this decision.
One of those positives has to be that Little Man has me all to himself on my days off and so we can plan creative and fun activities that work around him, rather than having to fit around the needs of more than one child. One such activity was the handmade wrapping paper we made for Christmas, which I think may well become a family tradition for us!
December came and I decided to share my Advent at the North Pole series of poems in a new way this year. As I know my time can be limited, I tried to create the images in advance, but I was struck down by a stomach bug which left me completely bed-ridden at times and which lasted a good 10 days before I began to feel even remotely human again. So I unfortunately had to shelve the idea.
And before I knew it, it was Christmas.
There is so much more I would love to write about but once again time is against me. But I hope in the New Year I can write about our potty training experiences, our search for a new home, my progress in my crochet challenge, and our plans for the future.
I wish you all a very happy 2014 - although there will be many highs and lows, may the highs always sustain you through the lows!