As I write this I'm in bed, half-dressed and smeared in chocolate. Not so long ago this could have meant the beginning of a great mini break but, at 38 weeks' pregnant, this is far from the case. Besides anything else, I wouldn't be wasting the chocolate.
I'm enjoying the last few weeks of pregnancy, and feeling a little nostalgic as it's likely my last. My husband will be raising an eyebrow at this point, as my 'enjoyment' has mostly manifested itself via constant whinging about back pain and the like. But deep down, really deep down, it's lovely.
This week's 'pause' was a gratitude themed one, and I've been particularly thankful for the weird bursts of energy that arise in late pregnancy. But rather than directing this energy to something useful like, I don't know, washing baby clothes or packing a hospital bag, I have mostly been engaging a bemused toddler in misguided Easter craft projects. It's a little like my husband's tendency to head outside and scrub the decking when we have people arriving for dinner in 20 minutes, the flat is strewn with toys and laundry and there is no evidence of any prepared food. And it's dark outside.
I love crafty stuff, but rarely have the patience or dexterity to realise my creative visions. This week the toddler and I made masks, painted bottles for vases, stuck feathers and sequins to anything we could find and attempted to prepare wintery wild bird seed treats.
I had read about these on You Baby Me Mummy and loved the idea. The toddler has a gaggle of grandparents (I think that's the correct collective noun), and we decided these would make ideal Easter pressies for them to hang in their gardens. I suspect several of the grandparents are desperately searching for the 'opt-out' form for toddler craft projects. Unlucky: there is no way out.
The wintery bird treats recipe is brilliantly simple and impossible to balls up. But I managed to balls it up. The original recipe called for gelatin leaves, and as a veggie (and part-time/wannabe vegan) I wasn't sure the birds would like this. In my concern, I forgot that most birds are quite partial to a raw worm steak, and unlikely to be squeamish about a bit of animal fat. But it was too late, and I had ordered a veggie gelatin substitute that I proceeded to prepare without allowing myself to be distracted by the instructions.
And so, we have bird seed granola. That's ok, I think, we'll serve it up on a wooden board with a little yoghurt and fruit compote; our garden will be the boutique bird hotel of the neighbourhood. Our second attempt was more successful, and we now have some beautiful shapes that aren't quite rigid enough to hang from trees but will perch nicely on branches. To quote Sheryl Sandberg; 'done is better than perfect'.
Anyway, over the last week or so, as part of project 52 pauses, I've also been keeping a gratitude photo journal. Here's the (very simple) idea:
Gratitude Photo Journal
- Take one photo a day (or more) of something that you're grateful for.
- Little things, big things, ordinary things and special things are all perfect.
- Store them or post them wherever you usually stash your pics; this could be a private or shared project.
- This could be extended to a 30 day or year-long project too. I like the idea of doing it for a longer stretch and then making a photo book. Maybe next time.
It's a sweet little project. I tried to resist the temptation to just alternate snaps of the toddler with a shot of coffee/chocolate (not an actual shot, but what a great idea), as these tend to be the main things I give thanks for. A quick glance at my Instagram feed will confirm how well I did there.
It all felt a bit frivolous as it struck me that I should really be photographing our clean, running water, our solid roof, our well-stocked cupboards. We have so much more than so many will ever have. I thought about some of the many other things I have to be thankful for:
- time with the toddler
- time without the toddler
- hot water bottles
- my husband, who says I 'haven't moaned that much; not really'
- spring sunshine and flowers
- my wriggling belly
- friends who say they won't mind if we call them in the middle of the night before a hospital run, and actually seem to mean it
I could go on, but these Easter bonnets aren't going to make themselves, and the birds are requesting cappuccinos to go with their granola.
You can check out my shots from the week here and I'd love to see yours!
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This post originally appeared on 52 pauses, a light-hearted blog project in which I try one simple mindfulness, meditation or relaxation practice each week, with the aim of slowing down and being a calmer parent.