Tag Archives: Year In Review

2016: the things underneath

I know, I think this might be the latest I’ve ever posted one of these. And I was just going to leave it – it feels irrelevant to relive 2016 halfway through January, not to say depressing – but I was surprised: it cheered me right up. Looking through all our photos, remembering the small, lovely things that happened in-between and underneath and despite the cataclysmic world events. Perhaps there’s something to be salvaged there, after all.

Anyway, here’s a map of 2016 in photos, tweets about bodily functions, and interesting things to read. Feels like it was made for your next long bathroom break, so hey: take fifteen minutes on me behind a locked door, while your children yell for status updates on your evacuations.

The January where we had literally no idea what was coming

An American broccoli and cheese soup recipe.
Frozen broccoli – ok
Cornstarch – um
1 loaf processed cheese food GET OUT GET OUT GET IN THE SEA

***

I know I should turn my nose up at chicken dippers, but I can’t ever truly disapprove of apostrophe-shaped food.

I read and loved:

This TOTALLY CONVINCING take-down of why Aragorn had no right to the throne of Gondor.

And I wrote: 

An impassioned defence of Always Taking The Damn Nap, Yes Always.

 

The February Heath Ledger and I Were Not The Same

Hey casual acquaintances! Just to say all my weirdness stems from my laser-focussed and obsessive attempts to seem less weird.

***

Sometimes I think that Heath Ledger dancing to Golden Years in A Knight’s Tale is one of the most exquisite moments in our human history.

(It is, though.)

I read and loved: 

This convincing explanation for why Harry Potter in Book Five is the absolute worst.

A gorgeous thing about To Kill a Mockingbird and our inner Scout Finches.

And I wrote: 

Something about David Bowie, and hawks, and dancing with toddlers (this is my favourite thing I wrote all year. Peaked early).

A controversial (as it turned out) article about how all two-year-olds are irrational tyrants, and we should definitely stop saying they aren’t.

 

The March We Survived A Transatlantic Flight With Small Children

2YO: I want a snack

Me: what kind? You’re already eating porridge

2YO: a…a green snack

Me: be more specific

2YO: I waaaant…porridge

***

I remember being a kid and consciously deciding that Belle ate the Be Our Guest food off-screen, because otherwise the waste was too annoying.

I read and loved:

Hilary Mantel (argh!) on Henry VIII’s bearded, Queen-stealing best friend (argh!).

This thing that basically confirmed my suspicion that Ben Affleck is a forever dirtbag.

And I wrote:

About Harry Potter and my teenaged life (terrible photos aplenty).

This piece for Selfish Mother about what happens once you’re out of the newlywed unicorn phase.

 

The April We Saw Lots of Beautiful America (Before, You Know, All That)

2YO, gagging gently, w. soap dispenser: urgh, soap

Me: did you put soap in your mouth?

2YO: yep

Me: why?!

4YO, wearily: it looks like syrup

***

Ate my 1st avocado-on-toast, so now I go to Instagram Heaven where all surfaces are white & food comes with hydrangea heads at a polite distance.

I read and loved:

This fascinating long-read about a woman with no long-term memory.

A gorgeous tribute to the late, great Victoria Wood.

And I wrote:

A piece about the most reliably thorny question in our marriage: who’s doing all the work?

 

The May It Was Actually Warm, No, I’m Being Serious, Take Your Coat Off

Getting a bit of Stockholm syndrome with this Eurovision presenter: he’s got more attractive the more HOURS this has gone on.

***

Went for my first run in about six months today, and this evening my legs are like ‘can u not’.

I read and loved: 

This invaluable collection of beauty recommendations for all age groups, by Sali Hughes (whom I love).

And I wrote: 

An article about body acceptance and shame.

An ode to babies-no-longer-babies.

And a Selfish Mother piece I had to screw up all my courage for, about gender-flipping periods.

 

The June We Spent Mostly Outside, Trying To Ignore That Other News Thing

I am making lists and 2YO is in the garden.

Me: you alright out there?

2YO. Yes! Do some work, OK?

Me: …ok.

***

Boy sneezes deliberately on the back of brother’s neck: a new low in sibling warfare.

I read and loved:

If Barack Obama Were Your Dad (gave myself whiplash clicking on this too fast).

The Unbelievable Tale of Jesus’ Wife, a juicy saga about academic detective work, history and fraud.

And I wrote: 

A bit of hope for the toddler mothers: it’s going to get better.

A piece for TalkMum about keeping your hobbies and self intact after children arrive.

 

The July Outlander Finally Went Too Far

The fact that Claire would eat a Hershey bar after growing up in England is the most unbelievable thing in the Outlander book series so far.

***

Ten minutes into the car journey, I am now convinced that the thing on my rear wiper is a decent chunk of brown bread. #parenting

I read and loved:

This unbelievably cheering profile of a man who was stabbed on the Tube, and bounced back like a legend (I’m being flippant because I can’t do justice to it in a sentence: go read).

‘I Will Bear Witness, Though Heavy Laden’ (sob).

And I wrote: 

T’s three-year-old birthday letter.

A teary goodbye to H’s first year at school.

 

The August With All The Secret Cheese Crackers and Crying

The thing I have learned is you shouldn’t start using any phrase ironically bc your brain is like ‘cool, incorporating into vocab forever’. I am now a person who says ‘100%’ when I mean ‘definitely, absolutely’, so I am only fit for The Apprentice and quiet shame.

***

Sat here in an empty house wincing, aloud, over gingerbread avalanches. What a time to be alive. #GBBO

I read and loved:

What came next after Bones inexplicably reversed death and never mentioned it again in that Star Trek film (BEST. BEST.)

A hilarious look through a seventies Happy Bride cookbook.

And I wrote: 

H’s five-year-old birthday letter.

An angry post about token girls and token helicopters in kids’ TV.

 

The September of School, and Nursery, and Babies

Parental maths: if I did breakfast yesterday and last Sunday but @mrjeffcoat got up with 3YO in the night, who does breakfast today? Show your working.

***

I just accidentally sat on a big blob of breakfast porridge and for a moment thought I’d managed to poop my pants by osmosis #miracle

I read and loved: 

I am sorry about both of these, but I weep with laughter every time: this calculation of the exact amount of banter in that photo of the Eton boys meeting Vladimir Putin (remember that?); also, this weird and wonderful thing about the fox on Splash Mountain coming disturbingly to life.

The power of internet friendships, by the founders of The Toast (I love them both, and this is beautiful).

And I wrote: 

An honest appraisal of the first trimester, third time around (spoiler: it sucks).

A piece for TalkMum about five things you shouldn’t worry about when your baby starts school.

 

The October Facebook Sassed Back

Since I shut down my Facebook newsfeed (<3) I get this message there instead: ‘You’d have more items if you added more friends’. Pure sass.

***

Me: it’s wet. Let’s just walk in our woods and then fetch something to bake.

5YO: or! We could play here in the warm and then have a calm lunch.

I read and loved: 

This lovely bittersweet article about tracking our different lives on Google Maps.

I will read anything that trashes ‘clean eating’ for the dangerous nonsense it is: this is sensible and good.

And I wrote: 

When is a roast chicken not a roast chicken? When it’s this.

 

The November We Won’t Talk About Except In Trivialities Like The Below

Marriage is two consecutive text messages: one recording in loving detail the consistency of our child’s vomit, the next, filthy innuendo.

***

Me: [sigh] 5YO, just let him do what he wants  

This is the youngest-child-rearing policy I never meant to have, yet somehow do have at 5.30pm

I read and loved:

How a Kashmiri mother’s cooking bound her to her daughter.

Behind the scenes of a full-time carer in Anne of Green Gables – one of the best things I read all year, this.

And I wrote:

This about why it’s important to be a bit of a rubbish parent sometimes.

 

The December We Stayed Home For Christmas And Now We’ll Never Do Anything Else

5YO: so then you tie our laces together

Me: right. Why?

5YO: for the game

Me: I want you to know I’m doing this against my better judgement

***

Does it hurt?’

‘I’ve got other stuff that hurts more’

‘Like what?’ 

‘Things from my past’ <-the point where I decided this book was Not Good

I read and loved: 

Something we desperately needed by this point: eight ordinary heroes from 2016

And this very heartfelt, touching letter to the midwife who blew in with the snow

And I wrote: 

An installment of Notes from the Trenches with, could it be, a little less excrement than usual?

Maybe the small things in this year will turn out to be unexpectedly cheering too? Here’s hoping.

2015, in bits and pieces

I had a professor once, at university, who sat us down at the beginning of our module – the two of us, in the study we’d had to go through three quads and two staircases to find – and gave us a reading list of books and articles he’d written himself. And that was, like, it.

Here’s a list of my wisdom; please study it in your spare time.

It was one of the most Oxford things that ever happened to me.

Anyway, I must’ve learned something from good old Professor B, because I’m about to do sort of the same thing.

2015 didn’t feel like much of a banner year – a great one, definitely, but a bit of a nondescript twelve months. Until I looked at my Twitter timeline, and remembered that a) between the holidays and milestones, all sorts of little things happened, and b) I read some articles that were so fantastic and brilliant, it was pure joy to reread them, and c) I actually wrote some things I was pretty proud of too.

So here they are. 2015, in the tiny bits and pieces.

That January Feeling

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Will be sat on this sofa forever until I have melded with the fabric & they try to spatula me off & Tim is all ‘no this is the sofa she loved’

***

Working thru Harry Potter audiobooks in instalments while houseworking. Book 5 might’s well have been called ‘That Time Harry Was A Jerk’.

I read and loved:

an article by Kate Gross’ mum, about her final moments on Christmas day (you should also read Kate Gross’ book, Late Fragments, which is one of the very best books I read this year).

this series called How Wizards Do Money (the financial management of Harry Potter characters), of which you should read every last scrap because it’s wonderful.

And I wrote:

A letter to the self I was before I had children, with some friendly advice (eat slower, have more schedule-free sex).

The February I took against Stephen Hawking in Awkward Fashion

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So we saw #TheTheoryofEverything last night. This morning I am spitting mad at Stephen Hawking, and by extension, all men. This is awkward.

I read and loved:

this beautiful post about all our possible imaginary children.

this gorgeously evocative article about the food story of a marriage.

this best everrrrr review of Fifty Shades.

The March I Turned Thirty and Discovered This Philip Larkin Poem

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In fact, may you be dull – / If that is what a skilled, / 

Vigilant, flexible, / Unemphasised, enthralled /

Catching of happiness is called.

***

3YO thinks that Nelly and Kelly song is about art.

Listen: ‘no matter what I do – ART – all I think about is you – ART’.

I read and loved:

this analogy you’ve probably seen by now, about how making tea is like consent (a swear-free version is here, if you want it).

this list of every Buffy argument made on the internet since 1998.

And I wrote:

a confessional piece about my inappropriate fiction crushes (PRINCE CASPIAN, HOLLA)

a mother’s day tribute to the women who made me

The April I was Diet-Shamed By Tesco

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Tesco: ‘we notice you have not bought these items you often buy’

Me: *looks* Ben & Jerry’s Karamel Sutra YES ALRIGHT TESCO I FEEL ASHAMED

***

We don’t need the heating on, that’s for sure’, he said, heading downstairs. ‘…we do though’, I whispered plaintively to the empty air. #scenesfromamarriage

I read and loved:

this magnificent grammar-geek article about the phrase ‘no, totally’.

And I wrote:

A piece finally admitting my angry mummy tendencies

A letter to my shy boy eldest

The May Where Antler-Pinterest Got a Bit Much

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Child has been saying he’s still hungry for an hour, but hasn’t had any better suggestions for what he wants than ‘invisible sandwich’.

***

Hey guys, just got back from the future and they said that decorating with antlers when you’re not a cowboy or Gaston was a little weird, k?

***

The particular shame when it’s your boy clutching a dog-eared chicken nugget he won’t throw away as he toddles round a village playground.

I swear every mother was in Boden and everyone threw shade like I’ve never seen.

Then the worst part, when I look at him five minutes later and the nugget is nowhere to be seen #whereisthenugget

I read and loved:

this beautiful short story, ‘Light’.

I Stole a Pen from Douglas Adams’ Grave – just lovely

And I wrote:

The funny old thing about time

The post that made me cry the most while writing it: Be brave

The June We Spent Mostly in Bed

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Flipping ravaged by this stomach bug. Just wept at the delicious prospect of a cola ice pop and wept again at the Hunger Games teaser.

***

Almost-2YO just described a sneeze as a ‘burp splash’,which is easily the most satisfying thing that’ll happen today.

I read and loved:

A billion reasons why I hate the school run, by the incomparable Hurrah for Gin

And I wrote:

A runners’ creed, for those who hate it (I STILL HATE IT)

The July We Started to Go a Bit Mad

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That hot-day thing when you’re towelling dry and a giant moth flutters out on your vulnerable naked body all OH HI, I’M SHOWERING TOO #nope

***

Boys banging walls and chanting a self-penned song entitled ‘Time to Wee’. All we need is a conch to go full on ‘Flies’. #summerholidays

I read and loved:

This raw, moving, dignified letter from the Huff Post Executive editor to her husband lost to suicide

And I wrote:

T’s now-you-are-two birthday letter

An indignant post about speaking up for your bad days, fellow women

The August that BAKE-OFF CAME BACK

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‘I want to get in there’
we all do Mary, we all do #GBBO

***

Just said ‘scuse me, loves’ to a group of #readingfestival-goers in Tesco.
Them: deliberating about beer.
Me: trying to reach the nappies.

My old age is assured and only death remains ahead.

I read and loved:

This fantastic list for new parents from Steph Douglas

This installment of Ask Polly (I LOVE ASK POLLY) about being a ‘calm question mark’

And I wrote:

An impassioned post for World Breastfeeding Day about how motherhood is so much more than your milk

H’s now-you-are-four birthday letter, with much sobbing (the last one before school, argh)

Something I’d been thinking about for a while: how parenting a mini-me is so much harder than you’d think

The September That Was All About School

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So how much jogging on the spot would I need to do to eat a chocolate digestive? Asking for a friend. #caloriecounting #bleurgh

***

Apple: WE JUST INVENTED THE PENCIL
everyone: apple, the pencil’s been around for…
Apple: IT’S GOT OUR NAME ON IT IT’S OURS NOW
Apple: what a great idea
Apple: well done apple

I read and loved:

this by Sali Hughes about when the cult of wellness becomes unhealthy (you should read anything by Sali Hughes)

And I wrote:

this nowhere-near-comprehensive list of all the inappropriate places H has peed

after experiencing the September Rages: dear boy, you can be unpretty here

that time a McDonald’s addict counted calories for a month and did not die

The October We Listened to Harry Potter a Lot

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Me: ‘it’s either a kite or a hawk.’
4YO: ‘I know! It’s a hawk-rocks’
Me: ‘a what?’
4YO: ‘a hawk-rux’
Me:’oh. No, he’s not a horcrux’

***

There are only three ways of using a car horn that don’t make you a jerk.

1. Hello, friend! [cheerful beep and wave]
2. Madam, I am here and you appear not to have seen me [short urgent beep and serious face]
3. Sir, the light has gone green and you have not noticed [polite beep, smile]

If you use the horn angrily, you are a jerk. If you lean on it for 3 seconds+, you are a jerk. If you do it while gesticulating furiously…
..you are a jerk. Like, people aren’t omniscient. They make mistakes. Cut the human race a bit of slack. (Seems to be mostly men, too)

I read and loved:

a gorgeously written article by Sophie Heawood about what it’s really like to be a single parent (you should also read everything Sophie Heawood writes. E v e r y t h i n g.)

an eye-opening post by my bloggy friend Amy, about washing away her day as a children’s nurse

this weep-inducing imagining of a Harry Potter where Hermione never did anyone’s homework for them

this happy-making article on how Nora Ephron made friends

And I wrote:

on marriage – ask for what you need; stand up for what you think

a letter to the brand-new mother of two – embrace the chaos, because it’s all going to be fine

The November T’s Favourite Song Became Hey Jude

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Imagine being this guy & remembering how you refused to clap to the recording of Hey Jude, even for a double fee.

CTc0EdWWcAAAoLo

***

[thumbs down] = finding a bogey that’s not yours underneath your chin
[thumbs up] = it’s not a bogey, it’s a piece of porridge!
[thumbs down] = the porridge wasn’t yours either

***

I have reached a level of hormonal stability where ‘God on High’ still makes me cry but ‘A Little Drop of Rain’ doesn’t, so good job uterus.

I read and loved: 

My kid is a tiny pedant, and I’m not sorry (SO MUCH MY LIFE)

this life-changing article about how much cod The Rock eats daily

‘I did not know how loved we were’: one of Ella Risbridger’s wonderful articles about lipstick and cancer (read the rest also)

this article about snooping in a dead man’s house that just about knocked me over

And I wrote: 

How not to be a big fat parenting loser

Five messages to give your tiny introvert (both products of much head-bashing)

The December Everyone Came to Stay

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Happy I-Have-No-Idea-Whether-I-Brushed-My-Teeth- So-I’ll-Brush-Them-Again-So-As-Not-To-Gross-Out-The-Playgroup-Mums Friday!

***

‘So. Eet is certain zat the murderer eez on ze train, and eez with us…right…NOW’

YEAH HE IS.

GET ‘IM POIROT #poirotontheradio

I read and loved: 

this lovely post by Radio 4’s Robin Ince (him of the Infinite Monkey Cage, and others) about performing after a loss

this old post which NEVER GETS OLD TO ME about how Peeta is Katniss’ Movie Girlfriend (we must talk about Mockingjay at some point, because Katniiiiiiiiiiss)

And I wrote: 

some things I wish I could say to my hairdresser

this melancholy little post about how Christmasses change and stay the same.

Actually I’ve awarded 2015 an upgrade: it was an excellent year. Here’s to whatever might come in 2016.

The year of the wave

Like United Airlines on days ending in ‘y’, I’m a little behind. It feels silly to be posting a year-in-review when we’ve clearly been in January for an age. January has a particular flavour to it, don’t you think? You can taste it in your mouth. It’s like December never happened.

Still. I like to look over these, afterwards. When the newness of January wears off and I’m just cold and cross, I like to remember that there is progression. This January is not the same as the last. We are not the same. And 2013 was a blinder.

Let’s go, then! In 2013, we:

woke up one day with an eighteen-month-old who could talk;

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hit our five-year anniversary with a million flashbacks;

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nearly peed in front of a Van Gogh in deliriously lovely Paris;

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posted our dummies off to the Dummy Fairy, and considered posting Henry off to an orphanage thereafter;

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got bigger,

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and bigger,

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and bigger;

fell indecently in love with the Hay Festival (again);

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got Henry a new roommate and a new favourite person;

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made Tim try on a giant fake pregnancy belly just to make ourselves laugh;

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met Edward in a hurry at 3am, and loved every last bit of him;

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spent Henry’s second birthday roaring on the Tube;

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saw some fancy houses and had some lovely days with my Mum and baby Teds;

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bumped over cobbles in drizzly Edinburgh;

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went on a date and invited Shakespeare;

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celebrated the heck out of autumn;

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had a cracking time selling poppies for Remembrance Day;

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and spent Christmas frying turkeys and jumping off sand dunes in Alabama.

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I tried hard to write honestly, this year, even if it was ugly. The intricacies of pregnancy, fiery toddlerhood, expanding motherhood, and all of the feelings that went along with it felt like earth shocks to me, a whole undiscovered country that at times I couldn’t fathom. It turned out that I wasn’t the only one. Thank goodness for blogging, and thank goodness for you.

There were milestones for Henry and me together: finding the seeds of independence, accepting him as a firecracker, trying positive discipline, letting him know his place. I wrote about writing: discovering words in India, kindness on Earth Day, and the recipe for blogging the real you. I tried really, really hard not to hate pregnancy style, packing a hospital bag, or dealing with third-trimester panic. In the scary newborn stage I tried reformation, giving up control, and on/off days. I finally admitted how I really feel about breastfeeding, and working mothers. I came up – again, and more than once – against post-partum body image. I wanted to be a single-tasker. I owned up to some pretty bizarre feelings about having two children (my favourite post of the year, this, because of the overwhelming ‘me too’s that came in response). And then there was the day I pretended to be Katniss Everdeen, formulated the Love Actually Theory of World Peace and got very, very angry about the princess in the tower.   

2013, we salute you. You were a tsunami, but after the wave, there were flowers.

Welcome back, Year in Instagram!

ayearininstagram

Dear friends, may I speak freely here? I am going into this Christmas season twitchy with anxiety. There are too many bodily fluids escaping over my floor and not enough eating. Our house is getting smaller the longer we stay inside, and the thinner and paler Henry gets, the more I fantasize about just parking him at McDonald’s and letting him run riot with the French fries.

A perfect week, then, to be reminded by a friend that it’s time for our YEAR IN INSTAGRAM retrospective. Last night I went through my year-through-a-filtered-lens, and had immense trouble narrowing my favourite moments down to just two a month. I thought about snow and scans, Parisian museums and bank holiday boating, new babies and old traditions. And my raw nerves were soothed.

Hurrah for photographs. Hurrah for record-keeping. And hurrah for Instagram. Here we go!

Jan

Feb1

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

If you, too, feel properly daring when you use Lo-Fi and indecently vintage when you whip out Earlybird, then YOU TOO may wish to link up with your own Year in Instagram! Steal the image at the top of the page, post on your blog, and get back to me on rach.makealongstoryshort (@) gmail.com (or leave a comment below) by 18th December. I’ll do a round-up before Christmas!

The year of magical thinking

I looked this morning at my 2011 retrospective. So much happened that year – big, tumultuous, never-the-same-again life events – that I could hardly fit it all in one post. But 2012 hasn’t been the same: mostly just the growing of a boy, and our normal lives, and a lot of thinking and writing. As it stands, one of our most intense moments has been just now, when Timothy bet me a bottle of Coke that I couldn’t keep nine marmite-coated Twiglets in my mouth simultaneously (I WON, SUCKAS).

In some ways it’s been quieter. In a lot of ways it’s been louder. I have loved it.

Indulge me, then. This year we:

ate our Shrove Tuesday pancakes with fire-engine lipstick;

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celebrated six months of boy;

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fell in love with New York sidewalks and Florida sand;

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paid homage to the original Henricus Rex and his adventure playground;

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wished Shakespeare a happy birthday;

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watched as Henry crawled, and then walked, then broke all of our things;

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completely lost our heads at the Hay Festival;

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captained a narrowboat down an Oxfordshire canal;

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met Jasper Fforde, and showered him with raisins;

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totally fell in love with the Olympics;

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held a first birthday party;

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camped the heck out of Dorset, and loved every minute;

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gaped at Winchester Cathedral;

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and introduced Henry to Sprucey the two-headed Christmas tree.

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In between, I wrote about big things and small: resolutions, and the problem of chipping a Facebook-shaped hole out of my heart. Anniversaries and wedding wistfulness. Finding things holy, and facing outwards. Choosing my work. I formulated the drawbridge theory, the Sunday night breath, and the blog-browser’s call to arms. I wrote about the terrifying rubbishness of making adult friends.  I wrestled with babies and body image (more than once), and wrote sincere love letters to food. I communed with my inner polar bear mother, cleaned off my parenting slate, found my reset button, and took my boy out of the box I’d made for him. I got very, very cross about bookshops. I realised that writing things down was the best possible way of clearing my head, and I worked out where I stood on all sorts of things. I was comfortable with my opinions, and felt like I became more of myself.

And then, of course, there was much cake and even more stories to read.

(I did some actual work too, in case you were wondering.)

Appropriately, in a year that started with a celebration in the cheese aisle, we’re finishing it off with a cheese-themed New Year’s Eve party. I hope to be kissed at midnight and consume an entire slab of Wensleydale. And if that’s the case then, 2013, you have my full attention.

Instagrammatic

Sometimes I look back and think

‘golly, what was it like in the days when you ate dinner without publishing a sepia-toned photo of chicken to all of your 400 closest friends?’

But mostly, I just love Instagram. If I were a bacon sandwich (if only), Instagram would be the ketchup. If I were a block of delicious wensleydale cheese, Instagram would be the little bits of cranberry. AND SO ON.

I don’t care that it started as a hipster-chic pretentious vintage love letter to the polaroid. I don’t care that every day, I look at photographs of breakfast and listen to about fifty people going on about how perfect the butter-spreadage is (‘WHERE did you get that carton of margarine? I must have!’). I don’t even care that Zuckerberg got hold of it in the end, as he was bound to, and put his signature stamp of over-share all over it.

I put photos on Instagram most days. Which means that I’ve got a long window back into any old day in the past year. That’s true of all photo collections, of course, but I love looking at my Instagram roll because every photograph is a snapshot I bothered to publish – I wanted to remember it at the time. In a year in which our family has changed by the day, having a record of it is precious to me.

Here’s my year in thirty Instagrams (indulge me). It was supposed to be two per month, but you have no idea how hard it was to whittle it down. Unfortunately the quality of my photographs has worsened as my phone has gathered more teeth-marks.

I SO loved putting that together. That’s why I take photographs in such abundance. To be reminded on grotty weekends that, actually, what I have here is pretty wonderful.

And here’s the thing: I’d really like to see yours. Want to join in? Use the image at the top of this post and send me a link when you’re done, at rach.makealongstoryshort (@) gmail.com. I’ll do a little round-up of everyone’s before the end of the year. It doesn’t have to be thirty photos – I’ve been sick and have had plenty of browsing time, so scale it down as you wish.

It does us good, I think, as we come into December again, to remember how lovely things are a lot of the time. Or sometimes, how painfully unlovely. Whatever kind of year you’ve had, it’s your life experience. So own it and Instagram the heck out of it, my loves.

Happy reminiscing!

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Jam-packed as a suitcase full of jam

Happy new year!

As we watched the New Year’s fireworks and clinked our glasses together in bed (rock on, little party demons) I felt really quite quivery-lipped to let the old year go. It’s been a humdinger.

In 2011, we:

received some startling news on New Year’s Day;

ate our own weight in raisins and rice cakes;

had a swordfight in the Forest of Dean;

got bigger;

and bigger;

and bigger;

graduated with a tassly hat;

started work;

stopped work;

lost our trousers in public places;

sailed down an Oxfordshire canal in a narrowboat;

did far too much DIY;

went in for a hospital appointment, and came out with a baby

…and pretty much thought he was the greatest thing we’d ever seen…

…even when he made it his mission to throw up on everything we owned…

…and especially when wearing a bear suit by the seaside.

And just in case that wasn’t enough incident for twelve months, we spent December going on a heck of a lot of dates (read: eating a lot of food) and introduced Henry to Christmas.

Hope you’re able to look back on last year and count the positives – or at least, look forward to a brighter 2012. Hey, the world’s supposed to end this year. The Mayans said so. Better make the most of it.

Fare thee well, 2011. We miss you already, you jammy devil, you.

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