A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2014
Iris: Slowly working your way back to where you were before Arlo was born. It has been a difficult transition, but one that you have faced with grace and kindness, already you and your sister love each other in a way I could have only imagined.
Arlo: Taking advantage of the warmth and luxury of Baba's house. I can't wait until we are somewhere warmer and I can start giving you baby massage.
I was not the only one to celebrate a recent birthday. At the beginning of February Iris turned three.
We spent a lovely day with our family at @Bristol where you ran around playing with your Nanny and Baba. In a continuing gallant effort to avoid sugar we made you these yummy raw chocolate brownies which you proceeded to eat 'like a cat'.
Iris, my darling, everyday you fill my heart with joy. When I think about you my stomach does somersaults and my eyes fill with tears.
You make me laugh out loud, sometimes until my tummy aches.
When you get excited you gesticulate like crazy and scrunch your little face up trying to find the words as they tumble out at an astonishing rate
You give 'your guys' who follow you everywhere different voices and it takes us an extra half an hour to dry them all after the bath. There is barely room for you anymore.
You are still getting to grips with the nuances of language, replying when asked if coming with "Yes, I'm are". Experimenting with rhyming has resulted in you calling us some pretty interesting names, some almost a little risky (your Daddy almost collapsed laughing after you told him "don't touch me saag").
You have an phenomenal amount of energy. I have still never come across another with your ability to climb and jump.
Despite the pain of my division of attention you never take it out on your baby sister. You cuddle and kiss her, telling her how much you love her, working hard to be her protecter. You are such a wonderful big sister.
Your first sentence is still one of your favourites and I'm sure one day we will miss the endless chorus of "read a book, read a book".
You say you don't know how to sing but as you fall asleep at night you sing songs that I didn't even know you knew
You are still learning how to share but when you do you have the most generous of hearts, happily sharing out food and toys to make sure everyone has an even share.
You are a wonder to behold and everyday I am thankful that I get to be part of your life. I can't wait to watch the woman you grow into.
But, no matter how big you get you will always be my baby.
When we first decided to move away from London our dream had been to buy a camper van and pootle around Europe for a year or as long as we could manage on the small income we were getting as rent for our flat. So we sold up most of our belongings, found an interim home to birth our daughter in and started planning. The more we planned the more we realised that driving around Europe would not only take a lot more money than we had but would also put a lot of strain on us at a time when we all needed to rest and realign . After the birth of Arlo we came to the difficult realisation, the Europe trip was going to be too much for our little family to cope with at the moment and that we would be over stretching ourselves. Roaming Europe has been not given up on, just postponed. Hopefully, when the girls are older and can get more from it and when we have spent a little more time planning and saving we can make it a reality.
So we are having to make a change of plans. We need somewhere where we can live as cheaply and easily as possible for as long as possible. Somewhere away from the cold and rain. Somewhere we can relax and just be together. Somewhere Mark can spend time with his children, watching them grow and building the relationship with Iris work constraints had prevented him from building in London. We don't need much in terms of space or luxuries, we are all currently still in a family bed in one room so a one bedroom shack would do. We are daydreaming of days playing and learning together under the sun and nights filled with starlight and the hum of cicadas.
Let's be honest. It was never going to rival dancing with a village of children under the warm Sri Lankan sun but last week I said goodbye to my 20's.
With a toddler and a newborn to concentrate on I struggled to find much enthusiasm in regards to parties and presents, I have everything I need apart from rest! I was very lucky to get a massage and reflexology, which was exactly what my tired and achey body needed after all the hours child rearing and baring.
Being here in the countryside has meant that for a while I have all of my family around me. It has been a very long time since we have all been together and I wish it could go on forever. We went for lunch with them and my oldest friend (we will be celebrating 25 years in 2015!). So as the rain poured down outside we talked and laughed with some good food and a bottle of wine.
I am looking forward to my next decade. So far ageing has been a pretty wonderful thing. I have said goodbye to so many of the anxieties and issues that haunted both my twenties and my teens. I am so much more aware of who I am and what I want and am more determined than ever to find ways to achieve my dreams. So, I have made a list of my ambitions for the next decade...
Travel: This is my number one ambition. For as long as I can remember I have had wanderlust but have had no one to walk the earth with me but was too scared to do it alone. I now have a wonderful family who are ready and willing to explore this world together.
Yoga: Yoga has been a big part of my life for the last two years and has played a big part in me finding some inner peace and accepting myself physically. I would love to be able to say that I have practised yoga everyday since my 30th birthday, even if it is just a couple of sun salutations and the closing sequence, to have made it a consistent part of my life and daily routine. I am also hoping to do my yoga teacher training, one day I would love to teach, but for now just to do it for myself.
Family and friends: The recent upheaval has really brought home how important being close to the people I care about is. Although, geographically, I will never be able to be close to all the people I love as they are scattered throughout this country and others, I can work harder to keep in contact through letters, calls, Skype and emails. There are friendships that I regret not working harder to maintain, I do not want to look back on my life with that regret ever again.
Impact: I would like to find someway of making a positive impact on the wider world. There are so many issues I feel very strongly about and feel ashamed that I only contribute to the signing of internet petitions. We have started by sponsoring two young girls in our daughters names, to celebrate the blessing of our daughters by helping someone else's daughters thrive. I hope to get more involved in local issues and to volunteer as the girls get older and I am able to be away from home for longer periods.
I hope, with work, I can make all of these ambitions a reality.