35 Before I'm 35 To Do List
35. Thirrrrrrty five?! How can this be? I can remember as clear as day playing in my primary school fields, jumping over the backs of my school friends, playing leap frog with my blue checked summer school dress blowing in the wind.
But here I am and it feels like a bit of a milestone. The age when you start checking a new box on online forms. It makes me almost shudder. But then I think about all the amazing things we have achieved, all that has happened since my 30th (pre blog) breast-feeding on Barry beach and 35 doesn't seem so bad!
But there are things I have put off, things I have stalled on and it's time to stop dawdling and get on. Commit and focus, and there's nothing more satisfying than ticking off a list is there?! So here it is.
1. Join the National Trust so that I can get closer to this beautiful island at Stourhead. And stop writing things on lists when you’ve already done them to make myself feel better. Whoops. Hooray number one done this weekend!
2. Take my beautiful antique eternity ring Rich bought me when Ollie was born to a jewellers to be repaired. I lost a diamond from it a while ago and it's sat sadly in my jewellery box ever since.
3. Commit to a beauty regime. I hurriedly wipe my face with baby wipes every night and not the glossy grown up wipes - the Johnsons pink sensitive baby bum wipes. The ones I wipe the boys grubby mouths with after they've slurped down an ice cream on a hot summer's day, the ones I use in a state of panic to clean the bathroom sink when my in laws are about to arrive. My sister despairs. I must start looking after my face so any tips will be gratefully received!
4. Learn to feel more comfortable in front of the camera. I have photo libraries full of pictures of the children, of Rich and the boys, of the places we have been but not so many with me in them. I don't want to miss these days and always be the one behind the lens. And if possible learn how to have my photo taken without a cheesy grin.
I try the whole sultry side glance, the smiling at my shoes and feel like a prize wally.
5. Host a dinner party for our new school friends. Joining a new school is always tricky, especially in Year 2. Three schools in three years has meant we haven't put down real roots at a primary school, but we are settled now, I am going to join the PTA and we have this new gang of people who make us laugh, are kind, and who we are going to watch our children grow up together with.
6. Read the magazines I buy and not just make beautiful piles on the coffee table. Sit with a cup of tea and just read.
7. Buy an old piano and have it painted, maybe not quite as bold as this beauty I spied on the Jersey Shore boardwalk, but ready and waiting for my big boy practise on. He has asked if he can take lessons this term and we couldn't be more thrilled. I wish I had kept up my piano lessons when I was 5. Music is something I have never mastered and I just can't seem to compute the notes on a page!
8. Take the boys to a country we’ve never been to before.
9. Fly to America and hold my new niece.
10. Give my boy the happiest Horrible Histories party.
11. Make a birthday cake, from scratch. No cheating.
12. Blog our trips to New York and Paris.
13. Let them be little. I have become a terrible helicopter parent. Ushering them around the house, marching them upstairs for a shower (the baths have been broken almost since the day we moved in) with military discipline and spending dinner times talking through an endless stream of don't sit like that, don't do that, put your knife like this and that... It's exhausting for me and it must be so tiring for them! They just want to have fun. So walking upstairs is so much better riding on our backs telling us to giddy up. Making faces against the shower glass is so much more rewarding for both of us than me sitting on my phone scrolling through Instagram seeing what might have updated in the last 3 minutes. We do those things just not enough. I want them to have the childhood I had; barefoot games of forty forty in the garden, watching films under duvets on wet Sunday mornings and shows behind the living room curtain stage. I want to keep them little and let them have the freedom to make their own fun.
14. Take the boys to watch their first musical in the West End.
15. Clear out my wardrobe. Organise summer clothes and vacuum pack them for the loft. Yes it’s a cliché but losing weight is on my list before my birthday. I’m curvy and I don’t like it. I will never be a size 10 but I need to get out of my 14s and back in the wardrobe of 12s.
16. More water less wine. Might help with number 15 ;)
17. Buy a pair of vintage ice skates. Every time I see a pair at a fair or car boot sale I kick myself that I left them behind.
18. Learn how to take videos. My mum has hours and hours of footage from my childhood. Videos where you can hear the zoom lens creaking forward and back, birthday parties, buildings dens with blankets on a wet week in Southbourne with my cousins. I have snippets of the boys, fleeting iPhone moments, but not real stories, roundups of a special trip or an ordinary weekend. I've signed up to this fantastic MAKE FILMS course with a blogging friend of mine Xanthe Berkeley which starts tomorrow! I feel like committing to her course is a way of finally pushing myself out of my photo comfort zone.
19. Watch a sunset and sleep in a tent in the garden.
20. Watch 50 Shades of Grey and see what all the fuss was about.
21. Ride my bike once a week.
22. Collate a book pitch. Not pitch it, just get it ready for when the time is right.
23. Make a decision on my new logo and branding from the lovely designer. The umming and aahing is going on too long.
24. Get my product site live. 2 years in the making is just embarrassing!
25. Take my boys to another festival.
26. Blog the festival we went to last Summer!
27. Practise shooting on manual. I’ve got stuck in my comfort zone and I shoot on auto pilot. Not auto but not full manual.
28. Learn how to use my sewing machine and make endless bunting to line the ceiling of the conservatory that we use as a playroom.
29. Blog our house renovations. In a year we have changed so much but this year we have ambitious plans. We have a heating system and electrics to rewire through the whole house, windows to replace, a bathroom, bedroom and en-suite project to research and undertake and plans for the garden.
We've spent so many weekends away this past year and this year I want to have as many friends and family to stay. To lay out a beautiful table in the garden with fairy lights strung in the trees and wrap under blankets on a balmy October night when there's only just a hint of Autumn in the air. To light the fires next Christmas and have an open house for everyone and anyone who wants to eat, drink and be merry!
30. Really commit to improving the boys' behaviour. The boys have been pushing the boundaries over the last couple of months, finding their voices and testing us to the limits some days! We know full well that we make lots of empty threats and it doesn't help the boys know when they can and can't cross the line, or sometimes where that line is.
We have best friends who we constantly learn from. They have 2 boys and they are so well mannered, such good company and are growing up like cousins to our boys. They are just like any other children but our friends have used great ideas to encourage good behaviour and control the bad. One thing we have started for January is the marble jar. We sat down at dinner and drew up a list of house rules. Things we would like the boys to manage better, like losing their tempers and dramatically stamping their feet, fighting with each other to the point of tears, taking some responsibility for helping in the house like clearing their plates and setting the table. We have committed to no phones at the table, no teasing, (That one is for Rich who has mercilessly been teasing Sammy about his love of the girls in his class. He's such a Romeo in the making and Rich has turned into that embarrassing dad.) no shouting (Mostly from me.) and limiting screen time, amongst other things like planning meals together. I realised that if I kept a diary of how much time they spend on a screen I would be horrified. It doesn't seem that long, but those minutes to give us a bit more of a lie in on a weekend and the time that whizzes by after school before bath time on a dark winter's night, when the TV is just on in the background, has got too long.
For every good act of helpful, kind or thoughtful behaviour we pop a marble in the jar. And when the jar is full they can choose a treat. Ollie has already got his eye on a magazine all about the human body and every time it flashes up on the TV during his precious half an hour he exclaims "I so would like that when my jar is full!"
We just need to follow through.
31. Spend a day on a photo walk in Cornwall with my 17 year old nephew who knows more about photography than than I do.
32. Make an annual girl's day out with my sister and mum. Last year we took her to Buckingham Palace for her 60th and we said to each other why don't we do this sort of thing ever?! Just once a year we should make a special occasion of not needing an occasion!
33. Start a collection. One to build on for the next 35 years. Any good ideas? I like the thought of something practical, things I can use, like old knives or chopping boards...
34. I have realised how little time I spend with Ollie on our own. I've blinked and my baby is a school boy. I want to make sure I make an effort to do ordinary things with him, without the distraction of his more vocal showman older brother.
We talked about his birthday party tonight and at the moment he is obsessed with rock music, so it was no surprise that he would like a music festival in the garden! Of course the party planner in me was like woo hoo, but after we sat together and looked through a few American websites at festival party ware, balloons and themed sweets (hoorah for visiting Uncle Pat in April and bringing some US party supplies home in a spare suitcase) and they'd gone to bed, I thought about how this could be our thing. We could plan it together, maybe create a little scrapbook of ideas, go to the park just us and have party meetings on the swings! We could test out the playlist and have dancing competitions in the living room and generally just spend some extra time together. For a long time he's been a Dada's boy and I'd love to get back some of that early closeness we shared. Snuggle together and read more, play through our collection of his favourite board games like we did over Christmas.
So what should I put as the finale to my list? I'd love to add share more behind the scenes like this. What do you think? I have until the 5th August so as much as I'd love to put some exotic travel destination or see safari animals in the wild, I might have to save that for a 40 before I'm 40 list! What would you have on your pre-birthday list? Do you go with the flow and see what life brings or are you a planner like me?!
Bring on the birthday, bring on the next 8 months of adventures, I hope you'll come with me for the ride!