I'm writing this post sitting in a (new to us) love seat that my husband's friend donated to us on New Year's Eve, as you do, in our newly wallpapered living room, with our Christmas tree lights twinkling away because it's not Twelfth Night yet so I'm stubbornly clinging onto it, dropping pine needles and all. I'm also slurping on a prosecco cos my husband just passed it to me; there goes my vague plan to do dry January. Oh and I have a four month old puppy on my knee, three daughters sleeping away upstairs, and the Instagram Rug of Dreams on the floor in front of me. So all is good.
Our giant tree beast plus rug on Christmas Eve.
I like to pick a theme for the coming year. Last year's theme was 'Expand'. More on that later. Andre voted for this year's theme to be 'Relaaaaax'. Sorry to manage your expectations, darling, but there isn't going to be much relaxation going on round here, at least not until we install the kitchen and I no longer have to run down to the cellar every time we need an extra prosecco glass, which happens a lot cos we drink a lot of prosecco (dry January was never realistically going to be a thing, was it).
So, this year's theme will be 'Organise'.
We've expanded the family and now need to juggle three daughters and three dogs. And after living in our house for nearly five years we've finally built our long-anticipated extension and can now put in place some permanent solutions to deal with the chaos of busy family life with two full-time working parents.
I think it's important to understand what each of us needs to feel a sense of inner peace. Apart from the obvious things, for me it's having an alphabetised spice rack (or possibly by cooking genre? Decisions, decisions), a clear dining table with no random crap littered all over it, and not having to run upstairs at the last minute to grab a cardigan/pair of socks/dog when you're trying to head out the door for the event that you're inevitably late for. I'm sure there are some people who are happy with a mountain of shoes at the front door but I am not one of those people.
So, the plan is to implement systems (betraying my day job here) that allow our family life to run smoothly with the minimum of fuss. No lost book bags, no texting the parent hosting the party that the kids are due to attend that afternoon to ask where the venue is cos we've lost the invite, no having to sacrifice my 30 minute daily exercise slot cos I haven't found the time, no piles of junk lying around cos we don't have anywhere to store that massive stash of Ikea paper napkins and tea lights.
No, in our house the teaspoons and the sugar will be stored next to the kettle and the coffee machine in the new kitchen that we'll install for the purpose. We won't run out of dog food and have to feed them pasta (apparently this is normal for Italian dogs?!) cos we will have an Amazon repeat order set up for it. We won't have to spend a romantic evening a deux wading around in the cellar baling out a foot of swamp water cos we'll have a calendar alert set up to check the drains every month. We will never again have to go upstairs to get a pair of socks for Natalia after heading out the front door to leave for school at 08:53 and realising she is barefoot because WE WILL FREAKING WELL STORE SPARE SOCKS IN THE NEW BOOT ROOM (because obviously this is some kind of revelatory solution). Note - I originally typed this as Space Socks which would be even awesome than Natalia's Paw Patrol and Spiderman numbers.
Anyway, quick recap of Expand 2016.
The house was gorgeous before but we like it even better now. it's not just the blending of modern and Victorian that we like so much, but the internal remodelling that has given us a Party House.
From two daughters to three:
From two dogs to three:
And in terms of expanding my own abilities? I can now say that I am A Runner. Coming from someone who hadn't run so much as 50m since I was forced to jog round a much-hated cross-country course at school, this feels like a huge deal for me. The first time I ran in April 2016, I managed about 1.5km before I had to stop and have a lie down. I now run 10-15k a week - a 5k during the week, and 5-10k on weekends. I'm not always very fast, but I absolutely love it, and as Andre will gladly confirm, get pretty cranky without it. Running releases endorphins and is scientifically proven to clear your head. As this article says: "it's hard to run and feel sorry for yourself at the same time".
Oh and I also developed superhero skills. Want to see a picture of me in a Spiderman costume? Well, if you insist...
Back to organisation - first on the list is finishing the Boot Room to store all our coats, shoes, umbrellas, scooters, summer gear, wet weather gear, FREAKING SPARE PAIRS OF SOCKS and so on. Then we're tackling the big kitchen renovation. The floor tiles are being delivered in a few weeks and then we will be on it like a car bonnet. I've managed to get my New Year theme post up on the first of January for a change so we're off to a flying start.
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