January Joy 2018!


Snow Scene

Well, hello 2018!

January Joy came about because I love to celebrate the start of a New Year but also to try and improve what is a bit of a depressing month. Poor January gets a bad rap I think, but it can’t be denied that the weather, lack of festive fun and annual dose of guilt we pile upon ourselves after Christmas excesses doesn’t exactly make for a fabulous start to the year. Previously January Joy has taken the form of a series of prompts to bring some Joy to your January but (in keeping with one of my themes for the year,) I’m going to change it a little this year. We all have very busy lives and as my life has evolved I imagine many of your lives have too. I don’t have time for daily or even weekly prompts so I’m going to focus on a few themes that I’ll be working towards all year instead and I have several posts lined up for you this month that fit within those themes. I always like to start the year with a bit of reflection and goal setting! So what are they, I hear you ask?


Tortoise BuJo spread

Slow Down

So often nowadays I feel like days, weeks and months are rattling past at a frenetic pace. We are quite a social family, we like to go out and do things, keep the kids busy, travel, and whilst we don’t do as much of this as before we had kids, it still all too often feels like we are rushing from one thing to the next, stressed preparing and organising for these things, instead of enjoying them. More often than not such a packed schedule adds more stress due to double booking, forgetting things and one of my biggest stresses currently, not keeping up to date with everything at home. The washing, the tidying, the stuff for school and work and so on. I want to feel more in control of all of this but also to just slow down and savour my girls while they are little. Having children has taught me to be more present, in the moment, not just to watch but to participate and I want to have time to do that, not through a series of day trips or experiences, just in our own home together. I’m hoping that making a bit more time available will allow me to take some time for myself, and I can introduce some mindfulness and self care, so I feel better able to tackle the rest of life’s chaos. A key part of this is getting more organised and I’ll be sharing my BuJo experience so far as part of that.


Talking about re-using and recycling made me think of this post a wrote a while back about Recycling your old scented candles.

Reduce

This year we want to continue to make changes to contribute towards reducing our impact on the environment. Waste has become a real bugbear of mine and so reducing it in a variety of ways is something I constantly thinking about. I’m talking food waste, plastic waste and landfill in general so look out for some blog posts on changes we have made as a family that really help.

Complete

Probably the biggest project we will be managing this year is the extension, while it’s not a resolution or a goal per se, its going to occupy huge amounts of our time and effort, both mentally and physically. The building work has already started with clearing the site and its pretty depressing looking at the mess and destruction, which looks 1000x worse in grim freezing damp January! I can’t wait for it to be finished but beyond that I’m determined to have the whole house finished by the end of the year. (Well, maybe not the top floor but we can just ignore that, right?)


Bauble iPhone wallpaper download

Connect

Lastly, I want to reach out a bit more via the blog, to make new connections with other bloggers and give Florence Finds a little more love again! Hopefully that will mean bringing some inspiring content to you guys too.

So now it’s your turn. What are your goals or resolutions, themes or inspirations for 2018? Are any the same as mine? Are some the total opposite? Please do drop me a comment and share!

Happy New Year readers!

Rebecca

Meet Cora Clementine…

Today was my due date so it seems fitting to share here (apologies if you’ve already seen the news on my Instagram or Facebook) that we welcomed our second little girl 12 days early, on the 7th of March.

Introducing Cora Clementine – Born Tuesday at 04.18, weighing 6lb 1oz. We are in love.

A post shared by Rebecca Norris (@rebecca_norris) on

This time around was completely different, from her birth, to being home with Bea, but she is a tiny bundle of perfection and we are all loving getting to know her. Hopefully I’ll be back soon to share her birth story and a bit more about being a family of 4!

Rebecca x

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

Number 2.

It’s been a while since we’ve had a chatty post around here… I’m very curious about this one. It’s a tad specific so apologies to the non-mama readers I have, but if you are a mama, when did you start craving number 2?

Just last week I met with friends and talk turned to babies and planning future children. She said that around this time (Bea is 15 months) she suddenly became totally obsessed with having another and now she is mum to 2 beautiful girls :) I asked her if she thought it was biological or just her desired timeframe between children and she said it was more biological.

It registered with me because I feel the same! I don’t think I was ever truly ‘broody’ before Bea, but recently I’ve had this uncontrollably (well almost,) ;) urge to get pregnant again, even though it’s not what I really want life or space between children-wise. I know lots of women have said the same to me regarding trying for their first. Its unimaginable before it happens and it still find it hard to believe that biology can be so powerful. (- why I find this hard to believe I don’t know, being a scientist and all!) I wonder if it happens to everyone at a certain time, is it nature? Is it related to breast feeding less, so the timing might vary mum to mum…?

So I wondered… have you felt like this before? Before your first? And if you already have a baby, when did wanting another kick in for you?

Looking forward to reading your thoughts with a coffee later ;)

Love,
Rebecca xo

Reaching out to Refugees.

The plight of the people fleeing Syria has been in the news for months, years even. This weeks pictures of Aylan Kurdi, the 3 year old boy drowned attempting to escape with his family really brought it home to me, as the world is finally starting to see past propaganda stories about benefit seeking immigrants and focus on humanitarian relief for the affected people. As you probably know, his mother, brother and 9 others in that boat alone died.

Before this picture it was some particularly brilliant news coverage that had got me thinking about their devastating situation. I have often in the past thought that if Britain were facing war and my family at risk, I would leave at once. I am a Doctor, I would find work elsewhere, we would be safe. Listening to the devastating stories that are emerging it is clear these people are also families, with professions and skills. There is nothing to distinguish between us other than location and circumstance. Seeing Aylan Kurdi’s little body on the beach just broke my heart, all I could see was Bea and another families anguish.

So I thought this weekend I would share a few ways you can help. I can’t sit and do nothing any longer, hoping the European governments do the right thing. At a time of year when we are planning house improvements, new clothes and holidays it all seems futile when whole families would give anything for safety, food and shelter. Here’s a few things I am doing, and if you have any direct ways of helping I would love for you to share them here.

  • Donate to the Red Cross
  • I was also directed to a group called Kos Kindness. The group was set up a couple of years back to help Greek families in poverty due to the economic crisis there but are now also inundated with refugees. There are several ways you can help. There’s a crowd funding page to help with delivery and an Amazon wish list that is kept up to date with what is required. You can buy food from a local supermarket and get it delivered online (the delivery address for Kos Kindness is on their Facebook page.) I’ve seen people are talking about sending shoeboxes full of practical items like toothbrushes, nappies, clothes, shoes and soap.
  • Many of the national newspapers are also publishing advice and links for practical ways you can help. Here are some from The Independent and The Guardian.

What are you doing to help?

Love, Rebecca.
xo

PS. Some of you may have noticed the blog has been down for a few days – it’s all sorted after an administrative error so we will be posting as usual next week. Thanks for bearing with us.

Garden Party Get Up…

We held Bea’s Naming Ceremony in our garden this last Sunday and as one of the reasons we chose a Naming Ceremony instead of a Christening was because we had no personal relationship with any of the local churches, it was important to us to hold it somewhere of significance. Our family home and newly finished garden seemed the perfect place to celebrate and start creating memories. Of course, I wanted to decorate too so I thought I’d share some of the inspiration behind the decor in case you are looking to decorate for any kind of garden party or celebration soon. It was all really simple and easy – mainly because I bought the decor in rather than making (most) of it and I’d recommend that approach for busy mums rather than aspiring towards unrealistic expectations!

I didn’t really have a theme but it is summer and I just wanted everything to look happy, fun and celebratory, so we went with bright colours.


DIY celebration flags // Mexicana fiesta bunting
Confetti Sprinkles Cake // Tags for wishes // Thumbprint tree

Of course, I collected some Pinterest inspiration, then found all the necessary supplies. Our celebrant Janet Lopacki provided us with the tree for a thumbprint guest book but the same one is available to download below. As another memento I cut up coloured paper (from TK Maxx) into tag shapes and left a stack for people to write a message for Bea and we got some lovely ones to keep for her. My intention is to make a scrapbook with the wishes, fingerprint tree and copies of the readings. The flags were a last minute idea to give to the children to wave through the ceremony, also made with the co-ordinating paper. I spotted the decor in John Lewis and made a note of their brand. Theres a much more extensive selection on their own website and I ended up buying it from them via Amazon which was cheaper. I happened to find some in TK Maxx too, although not in the colours I wanted.


(Free printable) DIY fingerprint tree: One Fab Day // Paper decor and fan strings: Talkingtables.co.uk // Ink pad: Hobbycraft // Paper: HeidiSwapp.com (From TK Maxx)

At the end of the ceremony we also arranged a balloon release. I’d do this differently in future, because the message got a bit lost while people removed the strings from the balloons, but the idea was explained by Janet like this:

I know that Beatrice will receive, and give, a lot of love to everyone she meets in life. Today you have been given balloons to release into the sky, the purpose of this in a symbolic sense, is that during the course of Beatrice’s lifetime, the thoughts, hopes and wishes you have for Beatrice today, will be carried through the wind and the weather systems, kept in by that ozone layer, and with each ray of sunshine and drop of rain, that love and those aspirations will steadily come back down to Beatrice.

We have had a few friends take photos that I’m just waiting to come back, but when they do, I’ll share a few here so you can see how it all turned out!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Behind the scenes…

Firstly, let me apologise for going AWOL last week. A little while ago we decided against a traditional Christening for Bea and opted for a humanist naming ceremony. We planned it for our newly finished garden, found a celebrant and invited our closest friends and family. As a consequence, last week was busy!

It was such an amazing day and I’m so glad we did it. I’m going to come back soon and tell you all more about it but here are some pictures of the planning first. I actually enjoyed the build up and the day without feeling really stressed, probably because we did it exactly how we wanted it.

In the meantime, if you didn’t catch Erin’s post yesterday, do go back and have a look at how she wore June.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

What I have learned… About being a working Mum

I’ve been back at work for almost 3 months now, my first day was 17th March and I didn’t write about it until now because I spent most of the first month doing a phased return. It wasn’t until after Easter that I was back to my usual 3 day week, so I’ve now done 2 months of that.

Some of you may recall that I was dreading my return to work. I cried the night before, partly because I felt like I was abandoning this little thing that had only ever known me being there almost 24/7. Partly it was purely selfish, I felt like I was missing out on watching her grow up and develop.

So I made it through the day without her… And this is what daddy daycare looks like…

A video posted by Rebecca Norris (@rebecca_norris) on

In actual fact, It’s been nowhere near as hard as I thought. Work is so busy (for those of you who don’t know, I’m a GP) that I didn’t get a moment to think about her all day. The first few times I left her she was with Pete, happy as larry, then later on with my mum, so that made things easier too. Coming home was amazing. When I started back at work, Bea wasn’t quite 8 months old so we weren’t quite at the stage where she was excited about seeing me again, but then as the weeks went on she started to get really excited when I came home, clapping and shouting and reaching for me. There have been crushing moments too though. The day I returned to work, Bea properly crawled, to the incentive of her expressed bottle that Daddy kindly put on the floor in front of her. Another day I came home and she had started clapping, (taught by my mum,) as lovely as it is for mum and her to have that experience and memory together, it still cut deep that it wasn’t me who taught her.

Being back at work has had it’s plus points though. I know after almost 8 months at home with Bea I was starting to take our time together for granted. There were times I needed to get some life admin task done or a bit of house work and she got plonked and shushed, inevitably towards the end of the day with a deadline looming and the witching hour underway. As she got more mobile that got harder and I got more frustrated. Now, as much as possible, the time I have with her I spend with her. When something needs doing, I plan to do it later… not much is getting done, but, whatever. I think I’m more patient with her too, being away makes me fresher, more ready to face the challenges a crawling, almost toddling, non-stop little minx brings with her. ;)

Objectively, now I’ve done both, I’m not sure how I feel. We just did our garden with the money that I earn – we use my salary at the moment to plough into the house and live more carefully on Pete’s. I’m so happy with it, but I hate that that essentially represents putting material things ahead of my time with Bea. I have more than once considered what it would mean to give up work, financial cuts we would have to make. I know I’d be as happy in a smaller house, so we could still afford holidays and the like, but with Bea every day. I’m pretty sure that if had had the option I’d have taken a career break, but there’s very little information about it available in my line of work and I do know that if you are off for over 12 months, there are retraining consequences. I’m also a partner and have obligations to my practice and partners. To some extent I feel I’ve made my bed and have to lie in it. Unfortunately I don’t buy the working woman positive role model argument… my Mum didn’t work and it didn’t stop me forging a challenging career, however I also don’t feel it influenced me in how I feel about being wishing I was at home with Bea either; I want to be home with her because I want to spend more time with her, not because I feel children do better when they have a stay at home mum (or parent) as a constant.

All those things considered, a lot of this is selfish rather than considering Beas needs. She is a happy little thing, doesn’t seem at all bothered by me leaving and copes really well with our days apart. Her relationship with Pete has blossomed. Although he was great with her before, its really gone to the next level and he knows her routine and quirks (almost) ;) as well as me now. She and my Mum also have a lovely little bond going on and its amazing seeing mum make her laugh or do things with her that I wouldn’t have thought to do.

Of course I know that there will be countless things she doesn’t learn from me, at nursery, at school, even at University (if she goes,) but its hard making the transition from being the lynchpin to all her new experiences. At times I have felt recently that she needs me less because she doesn’t see me as so central to her life now, she has had to reply on others as her touchstone throughout the day. And I know that its great that she has so many people around her, loving her, cheering her on and ready to catch her when she falls, but it doesn’t stop me wishing it was me. I also know I’m lucky to be able to work part time and I will say that 3 days is a reasonable balance but at the same time, more than enough for me.

I don’t think I’ve given any answers in this post, if you’re searching for them yourself, goodness knows I wish I had them myself, but I hope if you’re dreading returning to work it might help in some small way. I certainly found it was a bit like when I was pregnant and people would tell me that having a baby was ‘the best thing ever!’ – I used to think, ‘It might be for you…!’ and couldn’t comprehend how I would feel when she arrived. Similarly people told me the anticipation of returning to work was worse than the reality and it is, but I couldn’t see that at all when I was dreading my own return, until I had done it and it was fine.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, as always readers,

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS All these photos are from my Instagram account, you can follow Bea and I’s adventures here.

Cast your vote…

I’m sure there’s some unwritten rule of blogging somewhere that says, ‘don’t mention politics.’ Tell the truth, I’m not much of a political animal, feeling sometimes that policies and manifesto’s are so far removed from the day to day realities they are trying to tackle and more recently becoming more and more disillusioned as a frontline member of the NHS. For the first time however, I’m really undecided on how my vote will be cast and I wondered what you were all thinking*.

Front and centre of my thoughts and mind is of course the NHS. The Conservative government has brought the NHS, particularly General Practice, to its knees during this government, and morale hasn’t been lower, nor workloads higher, in decades. However, the economy seems to have been a triumph for the Tories and do I trust labour or The Lib Dems with the NHS either? Personally, I think they all want to dismantle the NHS and Labour and the Lib Dems are just keeping quiet about it. So should I vote for the best for the NHS or take everything into account, even if it’s not great for my personal career situation?

It feels tactical voting this time too. I don’t want to see another coalition. Voting for the ‘wrong’ party might mean UKIP take more seats. On a personal level, I cannot stand Ed Miliband. Should it be about ‘liking’ a possible future PM? I feel like they are all so coached, smooth and trained, that a gut feeling on personality and morals might be the only way to decide.

I’d love to hear a bit of Election chat from you this Monday morning. Perhaps the issues that are most pertinent to you and influencing your vote as the NHS influences mine? Feel free to disclose who you are voting for but it’s not at all required!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

*I appreciate this can be a sensitive and personal issue. Please feel free to comment anonymously – just check your browser doesn’t autofill your details when you comment and remember if you have a Gawker picture it’s linked to your email not your name. :)

Back to work Blues…

I’ve put off writing this post for weeks, in a classic example of head in the sand denial. Tomorrow, I’m going back to work.

A bit of context first. I’m going back 3 days a week and doing a phased return, so only Tuesday this week and then 2 days a week for the following 2 weeks before doing the full three days after the Easter weekend. Bea isn’t yet 8 months – she will be on the 21st. Why am I going back now? Financial reasons. I’m technically self employed and have to employ someone to do my job while I’m on Mat leave. The funding for that is only for a set period which ran out some weeks ago and the cost of paying for a locum is prohibitive to do for any longer than I have done. Because I’m going back earlier than I would like, I’ve managed to arrange that Pete will do one day of childcare, and my Mum is doing the other two, then Bea will start in Nursery for at least 1 day a week from being 12 months. That may be more difficult than starting her now on reflection, but thats a topic for another post.

Housekeeping out of the way, how am I feeling? Well thats one of the reasons for not writing the post. I’m not sure I can adequately express how much I don’t want to leave her. Until now, I’ve left her for 4 and a half hours max, and a total of about 5 times in those 7 and a half months since she was born. I haven’t wanted to leave her, I love being with her so much.

I can hear the former me and the judgements I made pre-baby ringing in my ears. Having no understanding of how I would feel, I thought women who didn’t want to go back to work just didn’t want to work. Work doesn’t really feature in my thoughts, except that it will be the cause of me leaving Bea. I thought women who never left their babies (like I haven’t) were… I don’t know, like a shadow of their former selves. Why didn’t they want to go out and do the things they did before? Because it doesn’t compare to spending the day with your little love. Why did they suddenly lose interest in their careers or job? I never expected to be desperate to get back to work, but I didn’t think I would feel so strongly that I didn’t want to go. I suppose it’s an evolutionary thing. After all, if it were easy to leave our babies, mothers would have left them in years gone by and helpless offspring would have come to all kinds of harm.

I’ve heard so many friends and acquaintances tell me the reality is much worse than the anticipation. And I know that in months to come I will probably welcome some time to myself, when she’s a full on toddler and every moment is exhausting and full of ‘why’s’. Or maybe I won’t. Right now, every bone in my body feels that leaving her is wrong and I don’t know how I’m going to do it.

I’m terrified I’m going to miss out. I’m terrified she will miss me and feel abandoned. All I can think is that she might need her Mummy and I won’t be there. That I should be there.

So I may or may not be around for the next week or two. I can see I will want to spend time with Bea instead of blogging, but if I do find myself at a loose end there me be a post or two on these pages. Bear with me, and I’ll be back once I’m on an even keel again.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

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