I always mean to do a blogging round-up post as a reminder of what we've been up to each year and somehow never manage to get around to it. I'm learning to seize the moment a lot more these days so rather than wish to find the time to do it, I'm just doing it quickly now...
Blogging definitely feels like it has taken a back-seat this year as life generally got too busy to try to keep up with blogging about but it also made me realise that that's ok. The blog is here - it's not going anywhere, and there shouldn't be any pressure to write.
As the kids are growing older, I'm also facing the dilemma that I have read about countless times...for the sake of their privacy I don't feel I can blog about them in any kind of deep and meaningful way but at the same time they still enjoy looking back on previous blogposts and reminiscing about their adventures.
January started sadly for us in 2016 having to say goodbye to our family pet Bella cat. The kids were comforted a little by looking back over photos of Bella and writing up some of our Bella stories as treasured memories.
It came as a shock to us all and acted as a stark reminder of how sometimes we can grieve more readily over a pet when we somehow manage to bottle up our grief at other times.
February was another month of mixed emotions...Miss T's JIA seemed to turn a corner as we captured in this walking in the woods update. But there was the loss of another family pet. This time Holly dog, granny and grandad's dog who can be seen in our Easter photos from a couple of years ago here.
We also enjoyed some family days out together over February half-term.
March and April are always busy months with D's birthday and Miss T's birthday. D visited a trampolining centre nearby with a couple of friends for his birthday party and Miss T had a build-a-bear party which she thoroughly enjoyed along with brunch at Bill's restaurant which has become one of our fave places to visit.
We had a whirlwind weekend in London in May. Although it was crazy busy, it was actually brilliant that we fitted so much in.
In June, our eldest turned 12. He had a fun-filled session of laser combat at Quex park.
I also did something for me in June - which never normally happens! I booked onto Henrietta Inman's summer cookery course in London one rainy summer's evening and felt totally out of my comfort zone doing so. Absolutely loved the evening and have been baking non-stop from her 'Clean Cakes' book ever since.
And then we were halfway through the year! I realised I'd lost a stone in weight by cutting out most refined sugar, reducing gluten and cutting down on dairy. I was eating more than ever - loads of veg, greens, salads, nuts and nut butters and felt better than I had for a long-time healthwise. Amelia Freer's book 'Eat, Nourish, Glow' was a turning point for me as it explained the reasons why various foods affect our bodies in certain ways - then it all made sense and as I gradually made these changes and felt better for it, it encouraged me to stick to it.
I'd increased my arthritis medication to help keep the pain at bay but realised that although I don't enjoy taking such a high dose of medication, it is better to keep the inflammation down to help reduce longer term damage to my joints. So I was starting to see that having less pain because of the increased pain relief was actually a good thing rather than trying to keep the dose down but end up with inflammation and pain.
Miss T's JIA continued to have it's ups and downs also as we found out in July.
August was AMAZING!!! We still look back at it and wonder whether we dreamt it.
We had an overnight stay at LEGOLAND, following soon by a week in Wales. Whilst everyone else was enduring a heat wave Wales was pleasantly warm and thankfully not too wet as we'd experienced in the past. We stayed in an idyllic cottage near the beautiful Lake Ogwen which became a favourite spot to visit. With a hot tub overlooking countryside all around it was a brilliant week of relaxation to prepare us for what was to come just a few days later.
Still good stuff, but just totally jammed packed adventures in....Dubai!
We kept a daily diary but for me Day 1 was in many ways the most magical. It is somewhere we never dreamt we'd be able to visit and yet now cannot wait to go back. There were so many activities crammed into our stay courtesy of Visit Dubai. We adored every second of it. When the weather is cold here, I find myself day dreaming of being by that pool at the Rove hotel. I think I'd quite happily feel able justify a holiday there just to spend time at that pool and stay at the lovely Rove. Plus another trip to Thiptara at the palace of course.
Richard wrote up a really great summary of just how perfect Dubai was which you can read here on Tots100.
Then September arrived and we were thrown into the new school year. Miss T started school and settled in brilliantly. I tried to keep up with a bit of GBBO baking whilst trying to stick to some of the clean eating principles of reducing refined sugar and gluten.
Our love affair with Pink Lining continued with the Wanderlust rucksack which seemed aptly named given all the adventures it accompanied us on this summer. But I have to admit I was saddened to find out that the Pink Lining brand had been taken over by another company at around this time and things just don't feel the same since!
We had another little break, this time just me and Richard with a Wicked Weekend in London. Being the first break away without kids we made the most of it by booking into a macaron cookery class at L'atelier des chefs. OK so the sugar-thing went totally out of the window that weekend but having had several failed attempts at Macarons, I REALLY wanted to know how to make them properly.
Talking of breaks, we also experienced the first broken bone in the family. D fell off his bike the day before term started and broke his wrist. Badly. It needed an overnight stay in hospital, general anaesthetic and an operation to re-set it and then several weeks in plaster.
In October, a tumble-dryer transformed our lives and I had a great birthday at LEGOLAND.
At the very end of October we spent the half-term break in Amsterdam, culminating in our visit to Utrecht to the Miffy museum. A long-awaited bucketlist adventure for us.
November and December have been busier than ever, the irony being that there are far fewer blogposts in those months because life has been so hectic. My dad's been unwell all year and he's been particularly poorly at times over recent months. It's not something that makes it onto the blog as he's always preferred his privacy but I guess it represents how blogs are sometimes just one teeny facet of people's lives.
Although Christmas has never been my favourite time of year, I do usually get a little sparkle of excitement on New Year's eve at the prospect of a new year and all the adventures that it may hold. This year that spark was missing. As yet, I cannot pinpoint why because in many ways circumstances behind the scenes mean that it could be a very interesting year ahead. In many ways I feel more ready than ever before to tackle challenges, to push open new doors, to continue to reclaim parts of me that have become lost within the title of being 'mother'. Perhaps it is this preparedness and calmness about it that has meant there is no need for the nervous excitement of a new year. It is more of a calm 'bring it on'.
Hope that 2017 is a good year for you!