Bea at Two

Just over a month ago, Bea turned two. Gone are the days of measuring her age in months and gone is my baby. Theres now a true toddler in the house, and don’t we all know it!

It’s true what they say, that they just get more and more fun as they get older. I couldn’t understand when Pete used to say already at even 1 year old that she was so much more interesting now than a newborn (that with Bea we were endlessly fascinated by,) and another small one would be so, well, boring by comparison. Although I remember that new mum obsession well, I can finally see what he means. Bea is my little companion now, chats all day and has her own little ways and plans. God help me when they don’t align with mine.

Beautiful balmy evening for playing in the garden!

A photo posted by Rebecca Norris (@rebecca_norris) on

We still baby wear (the photo taken here was only a week ago), favouring it over a pram. In fact we used the pram for a wedding a couple of weekends ago, purely to put her in during the evening reception once she had fallen asleep in the wrap. The time I had used it previously was a few weeks before last Christmas for a big shopping trip – thats how seldom we do reach for it. I’m lucky I guess in that she is still pretty tiny for her age (she remains on the 9th gentile and currently weighs about 26lbs,) but she is also not wrapped for anywhere near as long as she used to be, having been keen to walk since about 22 months I’d say. Of course, little legs get tired and soon enough she reaches up with arms outstretched saying ‘carry,’ and now I can’t carry her as long in arms, she still has to go in the wrap. The difference is she often specifies if she goes on the front or back. In fact, beyond basic transportation, it has been a godsend for generally calming her as a toddler. When situations have been overwhelming, when she is tired, teething or unhappy for some reason, sometimes I still reach for the wrap just to reconnect and re-set and it has never failed us.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say the ‘terrible two’s haven’t really hit here yet. Bea started to tantrum around the age of 1, when she couldn’t have a toy or some other item (usually something dangerous/unsuitable,) but was always easily distracted. Now I find her behaviour deteriorates when she is tired, (no change there then,) and also clearly when she is seeking attention. I have always said, Bea is 100% amazing when you give her 100% of your attention! Thats not to say she’s outwardly demanding it – she doesn’t dance around me saying ‘look at me’ just yet, but she does immediately start doing mischievous/naughty things when I’m not able to give her all of my attention and that’s when I really risk loosing it with her. No amount of ‘Just wait one minute while Mummy does this‘ will work and infact, she does progressively worse things which makes me more mad and I have to remind myself in these situations to just stop, sort her out and come back to whatever I was doing later.

Girl on the train. #toddlersofinstagram #biggirl #two #love

A photo posted by Rebecca Norris (@rebecca_norris) on

Speech has been the biggest change in Bea over recent months. She really didn’t start saying words until she was about 19months, then new words came thick and fast. At two she was starting sentences and now she tells me whole stories about something that has happened or she wants to do. I absolutely love that we can have little conversations about things. At the end of the day she can tell me what she has done and her little observations can be really funny!

Just around the age of two we had a really difficult phase with pushing. Bea has never pushed other kids despite being subjected to it a lot herself and we couldn’t decide if it was a learned behaviour or frustration. I eventually recognised after a lot of chatting to mum friends and a bit of reading that she was feeling really overwhelmed and frustrated in social situations, particularly when toys were involved. It is natural for parents I think to encourage sharing as a necessary social skill but it took me time to realise she (and kids her age) aren’t capable of it. She was previously good at ‘sharing’ but on reflection she was just ‘giving’ toys to other kids when we asked. I eventually read a really useful article about how you shouldn’t encourage sharing, but the child (be it yours or another child,) who has the toy gets to keep it for as long as they want. You have to empathise with your child that they don’t get to have it just yet but explain when the other child is done, they can play with it then. This is supposed to make them feel more secure that when they themselves have a toy they want they will get to keep it as long as they would like and not cause pushing to get/keep a toy. It solved the problem here within 2 weeks.

Fortunately Bea continues to be a great sleeper. We have had our blips, often unexplained, but we had a month long particularly memorable spell of her not letting me put her down just before she was 2. I was exhausted mentally by having to wrap her or hold her for an hour or more and the effect that was having on my ‘me time’ after her bedtime. We thought about letting her cry it out as she was definitely of an age that she knew if she cried I would come back but she has never done this unless she has needed me for one reason or another. Leaps, teething, illness, so I ploughed through and just like that she stopped again and went back to normal.

We have also finally finished breastfeeding. I think bea was about 2 and 2 months-ish, and finally stopped of her own accord which was what I wanted. I have a lot more to say about our whole BF journey so I’ll save that for another post.

One major change that has come at just the right time, is that Bea is becoming really happy to play alone now. It’s a developing skill, but she will pick up books and ‘read’ (recite) them to herself or me, toddle off to the playroom to play with her train set or play with a puzzle while I get ready. It doesn’t always work and it doesn’t last for long but I’m certainly looking forward to it improving!

I could write all day about where she is up to and more, partly because this was such an overdue post but something else has been keeping me from blogging and that’s a new baby! :) I’m half way through now and we are incredibly excited and happy to be growing our little family. Bea is (so far) very excited too – most entertainingly looking into my belly button to ‘see the baby!’ and giving my bump big pats and cuddles.

Please do let me know where you guys are all up to with your little ones?

Rebecca x

A Tiger who came to tea Party

As you may have seen from this post, Bea recently turned two and we wanted to have a bit of a party to celebrate. Why not? Her absolute favourite book at the time was The Tiger That came to Tea and so I decided to loosely theme the party around that, more to give me ideas! A quick search on Pinterest gave me a few ideas for activities and I thought I’d just share it all here.

We ended up having 8 children there, most of whom were around 2 and a couple of older siblings that tagged along. I wanted to make sure they were occupied so the first thing we did was a craft activity painting a tiger face.

We put plastic table cloths down and I pre-prepared felt tiger noses, black cardboard tiger stripes, and google eyes. These were all put on the table in little pots, then each child got a paper plate and brush, and I squirted orange paint onto paper plates. They just had to paint the paper plate orange then add the eyes nose and stripes! I did pre-warn the mums to bring a bib for painting and not to wear anything they were too protective about too. ;) Obviously we all helped them but it kept them quiet and entertained for a while and they all behaved really well – I think because of the nursery ‘herd effect’ of them all copying each other! It’s a good idea to have a bowls of soapy water and an old towel on hand for hand washing afterwards too.

Next we moved onto party games and had a round of good old pass the parcel. After that we had the little ‘tea party’, again loosely based on the book so we had sandwiches and party ring biscuits along with hummus and carrot/cucumber sticks and some ‘tiger tail’ Organix carrot puffs. We already have one mini table and chairs, but borrowed another 2 tables and 6 chairs from friends to make the long picnic style table.

Lastly there was cake! I was intending to make a Tiger cake but frankly saw the light about 2 days before when I remembered that a cake decorating guru I am not! I opted for a ’2′ cake instead and was really pleased with how it turned out! It was actually really easy to make with just a round tin and a square tin (have a look at this tutorial here) although obviously just baking, cooling and icing/decorating did take a quite some time. (If you want a closer look I took a photo for Instagram on the day.)

We also decorated with tiger balloons we bought online and got inflated at the local balloon place. I added a foil tiger balloon because I couldn’t resist and we had an inflatable monkey hanging around too. (It was really hard not to deviate from the ‘Tiger who Came to Tea’ theme towards a jungle theme as the majority of Tiger stuff was jungle related.) As another bit of fun I asked my mum to make some long tiger tails out of tiger fabric and gave them to all the children to dress up in. Predictably some were not impressed but others wore them and took them home!

Over all we just really enjoyed it! It was a bit stressful to organise but I had lots of help and I was really happy to have marked the occasion and have all the memories and photos to look back on. And Bea had a whale of a time with all her little friends.

I hope it has inspired or given you some ideas – little people’s parties are quite a big deal it turns out!

Rebecca x

DIY Chalkboard birthday stats

I’ve long admired those Chalkboard typographic posters or prints that you see from time to time on Etsy (because you can pay people to produce one for you if you are organised!) or Pinterest. I decided I would do something similar for Bea’s 2nd birthday (more to come on her party soon,) and it was a lot easier than I expected.

And Bea is 2! #birthday #toddlersofinstagram #birthdaystats #twotoday #24months

A photo posted by Rebecca Norris (@rebecca_norris) on

I simply used her easel from Ikea and the chalks with it. I first wrote out some of the ‘statistics’ I wanted to include, and then used a piece of scrap paper to design the layout somewhat. This was mainly to make sure I didn’t run out of space writing her name across the top (and it still didn’t end up perfect!) but when I hesitated doing it freehand on the board I sometimes went back to the paper to see if what I was doing was going to work. I was really pleased with the effect and thought I’d share!

Rebecca x

Hello Again!

Wow, it’s been a long time. It seems that life just continues to get in the way of blogging. I started writing this post on the 30th of May and good ol’ WordPress promptly lost most of it… it’s taken until now to get round to finishing. Recently I’ve found myself thinking of lots of things I’d like to share so I think it’s time to get back on the horse. Its been so long though, I think it’s time for a little catch up first. And I’d love to hear from you guys as to whats going on with you?

Going back a little further than the last 2 months, I started working a bit more in January. I used to do 2.5 days of seeing patients and another half day was admin time. It felt like a really great balance as I did 2 full days and friday afternoon, but I’d go in on friday morning to get some work done and keep my admin up to date. Because we are generally understaffed and workloads are getting greater all the time, I offered to increase to 3 full days of seeing patients and do my admin from home (because I don’t have or want childcare for the extra time the admin would require.) I have full access to my desktop from home but it means I’m squeezing paperwork in at home in Bea’s nap times or usually at night, and its really tipped the balance in a negative way. My work days are way busier because I’m trying to pack extra in, I’m staying later and still have stuff to do at home. And that ends up just making everything feel worse. At the moment we still need it at work, but I’m thinking all the time about whether to change things back.

The house is also being a bit of a mental drain, if not a physical one. We started one of our main bedrooms back in January – stripping the walls ready for the mammoth job of replacing the wooden windows, re-plastering, putting a new (old) fireplace in and then getting to the fun part of actually decorating and filling it. Its going to be a playroom for Bea and then in the future will become her big girl bedroom when we need the nursery again. Its been somewhat of a false start however as we have been messed about by the company we ordered our windows from and as I write they are promising they will be fitted next week. Funnily enough, I’ve heard that one before from these guys, more than once, but I’m not going to write any more about it otherwise I am likely to swear. A lot.

We have also got another super exciting house project on the go but that one deserves a whole post of it’s own. ;)

I finally started doing some exercise recently, well in January. I found a running buddy, my friend Meriel, and she basically kicked my behind into making it out of the front door for a change. Being brutally honest I have done pretty much no exercise since Bea was born (another blog post in the making,) and there have been lapses when life didn’t allow or I lost my motivation, but I’m pretty proud that over all, I feel like I can call myself a runner now. I get out at least twice a week and my ‘minutes per kilometre’ number is falling all the time. More than anything the regular exercise has actually made me crave more. I miss it when I don’t have opportunity and I feel good when I have managed to do something, even if it’s a short run. High fives all round!

I’m feeling pretty sad I’ve let things slip around here, partly because I miss the posts I wrote about Bea – the last one was when she was 11 months – almost 12 months ago now and she’s turning into a little rock star. I guess part of the reason I don’t get time to post is that I prefer to focus on her fully, but I miss documenting all her little changes and cuteness. Despite the odd very trying day (hello toddler tantrums!) motherhood is still the best adventure I ever embarked upon.

So I’m going to leave it there, because I want to write more, be here more, and if I waffle on much longer I won’t manage another post!

Now what have you been doing so far this year?

Rebecca
x

Spotted: Selfish Mother

Because… Aren't we all? @selfishmother #SelfishMother #GoodTee #winglet

A photo posted by Rebecca Norris (@rebecca_norris) on

I think for many of you reading I won’t be the first one to share the Selfish Mother #GoodTees project, but I recently bought one and haven’t stopped wearing it, so had to share.

The Mother Shop is full of sweatshirts (boyfriend style, scoop necks and new pastel summer weight scoop necks just added,) with brilliant slogans for busy mama’s. Mine is grey with a bright coral ‘Winging It’ emblazoned across the front, but there are simpler ones like ‘Mama’ or 80′s throwback fonts and titles like ‘Maverick’. Best of all, theres a charitable donation made form all the profits:

*When we say ‘all profits’ this means £15 from the sale of each sweat going straight to help others!

As of January 2016 we’ve donated over £75,000 to charities including Women for Women International, KIDS, Help Refugees UK & The Refugee Council. Simply by kitting you out! Help us raise more and wear your allegiance on your chest…

I’m about to buy another one because right now, this ticks all my ‘getting dressed int the morning’ boxes. Super soft, comfy, washable, looks great with jeans… and done!

Get yours here and tag me on Instagram if you do!

Rebecca xo

Mama Body

I’m often thinking about motherhood issues I’d like to share here and rarely get time to sit and tap something coherent out but I’d love to encourage some honest discussion, so here’s the first in a series… more to follow.

Let’s cut to the chase today, how do you *really* feel about your body now you have had a baby?

I’ve thought about writing this for months… putting it off mainly because I wanted to reach the fabled ‘other side’ that I’d read so many other super mums accounts of. The holy grail of your pre-pregnancy weight, feeling like you’ve ‘got your body back‘ and regaining your pre-motherhood confidence. Turns out at 19 months post partum, I don’t think for me at least, that perfect triad actually exists. My body has gone through many stages – post partum ‘bump’ (that lasted weeks longer than I expected,) then months where I was heavy but truly didn’t care as I was so wrapped up in my beautiful baby. The first realisations that I wanted to try and get my weight down only started to creep into my mind around 10-12 months after having Bea and co-incidentally, perhaps with a slightly conscious moderation of my cake heavy diet, I started to very slowly move towards my pre-pregnancy weight. For a while I was happy with the slimmer silhouette I saw in the mirror then I started to look at the finer detail. And it’s fair to say I don’t love what I see.


Image of Amanda, via the 4th Trimester Bodies Project on Instagram

I’ve gone to write this so many times and hesitated. In part I suppose I hoped I’d miraculously lose weight/clean up my eating habits/suddenly find the desire or time to start exercising regularly and the whole issue would go away. In part because it’s like there’s some kind of shame in admitting that under your clothes (because in reality most of what I dislike isn’t really visible,) isn’t as attractive as the media tells us it should be. And whilst I know there are truly genetically lucky women (some amongst my friends,) who have lost weight quickly, through feeding or otherwise, and still look great, the media and just your average blogger posting about how they got their weight down/body back by cutting out sugar/rediscovering their love of pilates/breast feeding, really doesn’t help.

So the truth about my body is that it still doesn’t feel like my own. I’m still feeding Bea morning and evening. This week she has been particularly clingy and my body rarely feels like my own unless she’s asleep in her cot and then, ironically I miss her. My boobs haven’t done too badly for feeding her and don’t look a whole lot different, although I’m currently missing the fullness pregnancy and feeding imparted. I’m sure everybody feels differently about the parts of their body that are different after a baby, but for me it’s my middle that bothers me the most. My waist seems to be just… absent. And my stomach muscles, whilst still present, (I know – I regularly try to tense them to check they are still there!) are hidden under a layer of blubber and seem intent on just sagging out of shape when I am relaxed… so all the time. But the thing I hate the most is the skin. I got stretch marks under my bump in about my 35th week of pregnancy. I expected it because I suffered with stretch marks in my teens but they are so faded now I hoped they would disappear to the barely visible silvery lines the earlier ones left. Whilst they are less visible now and pale, they’ve totally altered the texture of my skin. Stood upright you’d never notice but any bending forwards reveals the crepe-like texture and loose skin I loathe.

Loathe is a strong word and not how I feel about my ‘self’ I hasten to add. Fortunately I have never based my self worth on my external appearance but even though I consider myself to be unusually self confident, there have to be things and times when you don’t feel perfect. Even as I write this I feel almost defeated in admitting it. I’m mentally straining for a positive comment or course of action to round off this blog post with, to say what I’m going to do about it, or how I’m going to change myself. But I think what I really want to say is it’s ok to feel like this. That maybe acceptance is the way forwards and the way to ultimate happiness about your body after having babies. Perhaps the cliched end is that I’d go through it all again and worse for Bea. Being a mother is so much better than having a perfect (if it ever was) body and I’d much rather spend time with her than time pursuing it. In my case, most of the time motherhood is distracting enough to prevent me dwelling on the reality of my ‘new’ body. But it’s a part of motherhood nonetheless.

Now it’s time to hand over to you. How do you really feel about your body? Have your feelings changed? Perhaps you feel differently to me? I’d love to hear your thoughts readers :)

Rebecca x

Thanking you kindly…

As a child I was always brought up to write thank you letters, and I mean to everyone. People we saw regularly, people we had already thanked at the time of receiving the gifts and people far away. As an adult, I try to keep writing them but admit, time gets the better of me and sometimes it’s frankly embarrassing after so much time has passed to send a thank you letter so late!


Image Via The Glitter Guide: 7 Sweet thank you cards
Now that we have Bea, its made me think a lot more about thank you’s and the act of writing a thank you letter. Personally, when I give someone a gift, I do it without the expectation of thanks. I don’t give to receive thanks in return, but simply because I want to. I might want to celebrate someones birthday or new baby, or just cheer them up and whilst a thank you is lovely to receive, I don’t count them or look out for them. In fact there are occasions when I would rather NOT receive a thank you letter… I’d would much prefer that new mum spend an extra 5 or 10 minutes cuddling her new baby than thanking me for the gift I sent.

Now we have Bea, a whole new world of thanking people has popped up, and I feel I ought to write thank you’s for all of her gifts too. But when she’s not actually writing them herself, I’m not actually teaching her to appreciate the thought, effort or financial generosity behind a gift (which I would plan to do in future with an older child,) and it is one more burden for an ever growing mummy to-do list. So I’ve decided that we will write thank you’s for geographically distant relatives and people we won’t see to thank. Those that we do see will be thanked in person on receipt of the gift and family/friends can have electronic thank you by way of photo or email messages showing the presents in use.

I’m curious to know readers, what did you do growing up and what do you do now, (or plan to do) with your children?

Love,
Rebecca

January Joy: Make some Resolutions!

Hi again! Its so lovely to hear from you all again – thank you so much for the comments, I’m glad to be back. It would appear I’m not more timely than I was tho ;)

So as promised… my resolutions. I know some people dont like resolutions but I’m a goal setter and I just can’t resist January as a fresh start for getting some plans, aspirations and must-try harder goals on paper. I thought about not bothering but realised how negative it felt and although it’s seen as cliche, I can be found making resolutions most weeks of the year so the first is no exception ;)

Here they are. Resolutions, the 2016 edition.
1. Clear out and declutter corners
2. Finish the house
3. Eat better
4. Learn to Knit

I actually started my first one before Christmas with our Cellar. I was brought up purging (my mum is pretty good at it with clothes and as a child we were always made to go through the toy cupboard and get rid of some things before Christmas, which were taken to the local Childrens home.) Unfortunately I’m now busy, lazy and married to a man who hoards. The dangers of having a big house are that you fill it and our lives have exploded from a 3 bed terrace to 3 sprawling floors of space that is rapidly getting filled. The thought of having to pack it up if we moved terrifies me and I’m a BIG believer that if you are putting something into a room to keep it out of the way where it doesnt get looked at year to year, it shouldn’t be in your life. So I’m trying to use my resolutions to action that thought. Clearing out the cellar (4 car loads to the tip later and we are half way there I think!) was an amazing feeling and I want to keep going. To keep it achievable I’m tackling little corners and spots of clutter at a time, rather than unachieveable whole rooms and after reading this A year of tidying I’m thinking I’ll buy the KonMari book – Has anyone read it?

The second resolution is stolen from Pete. We still have several rooms to tackle and others that have been 80% completed but lack finishing touches. We also have an exciting project under investigation which I’ll share if it is actually going to happen. Either way there are lots more home posts to come from FF in 2016!

New Year, new house project…. Fireplace shopping today! #renovation #interiors #periodhouse #fireplace

A photo posted by Rebecca Norris (@rebecca_norris) on

The last two are certainly the stuff of yearly resolutions. Delving a bit deeper though I want to expand my weekly standard recipe repertoire and find some less stodgy but satisfying and delicious winter options. We eat a lot with Bea and I obviously want her to eat well and try lots of things so that needs to be woven into he plan too. I’ve already branch out and bought Good Food magazine which Pete tried a Cod, Cauliflower and Chorizo dish from last night that was amazing, so I’m inspired to keep going.

And it wouldn’t be New Year without a new skill right? I suppose I could say I already know how to knit but I haven’t done any for at least 15 years and even then didn’t know how to cast on or off, so there’s plenty to learn and re-learn. I’d just love to whip up a new hat for Bea when I want to or little jumpers and cardigans, and to know she was wearing something I made with love would be, well… pretty special. Watch this space!

Of course there could be more… date night, trying to get fit again… but now it’s your turn readers. Have you made any resolutions? Got any goals? even if they are not for the year and just on your current to-do list, I’d love to hear them ;)

Rebecca x

PS Look how big Bea grew! I couldn’t resist including a few pictures as it’s been a while… ;)

Happy New Year!

Hello readers! I’m happy to say, I’m back!

I knew almost as soon as I said goodbye that I wanted to continue blogging in some capacity, I value the community here too much to quit completely, but I needed to find a way forward. I think with the benefit of hindsight, because Florence Finds has changed so much since the beginning, it felt wrong to be continually winding down and I needed a clean break to start again. With that in mind, I will be here on a complete ad-hoc basis. If I have something to say, and the time to say it, I will!

I think part of the problem, aside from work, becoming a mother and that little thing called ‘life’ getting in the way, the way I blog has changed massively in the 3+ years since I started Florence Finds. Initially it was very much magazine style with snippets I found everywhere, but over time it has evolved to become a completely personal blog, a place where I share my inspiration and choices. Instead of pinching a couple of stock images of a moisturiser and babbling my thoughts on it, now a typical post documents something I did or am planning and a room update for example requires me to tidy,(!) photograph it, edit the photos, write the post and put all sorts of links in. They are much more time consuming than they were. I used to wrestle with my lack of appetite for trawling the online sites for a new ‘party dress review’ but I have come to terms with just sharing my life now, as I have always just wanted others to have the benefit of my experiences (good or bad,) and to gain the wisdom of so many others doing the same things and going through the same life stages. :) So here I am again.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year… I won’t be doing a traditional January Joy series, in that it won’t be pre-planned, but I think my blog posts throughout the month will reflect the general theme of ‘January Joy’ so I hope you enjoy reading them. I’ll be back with my resolutions tomorrow (as I felt they deserved a fresh post!)

If you are reading this… thanks for sticking around ;)

Rebecca x

Goodbye for now…

I imagine the title here says it all, but I am writing this to say goodbye and close Florence Finds for business, for a while at least.

For a long time, writing here has been something I have felt I ought to do, rather than wanted to do. Life has slowed down, so I don’t have as much to share, yet become richer and fuller. As a mum and working too, time is precious, free time even more so. In terms of priorities, FF is slipping down the list. Despite my turn of phrase above, this is not my business, my GP practice is and in the current climate that demands more and more of my time too.

I’ve always felt that blogs should be predictable and regular, so readers know when to check in. I’ve failed at that miserably lately and even though I have considered posting on an as-and-when basis, I know I would even then still feel obliged to post. For that reason I have decided to take a break until the end of the year and re-evaluate how I feel then. If I carry on here, it needs to be because I have found a way to do it for me again.

I know it will feel surreal, and I will miss the relationships I have here but if you would like to continue following me or keep in touch, you can find me on Instagram. Thank you for reading for the last 4 years, and take care readers.

xxx