#atinylife overout

I’ve been writing a weekly blog for almost six years now.

Crikey.

A lot has changed. Two of my kids came out as trans. We moved house. I got two new jobs. The kids have been at four schools, between the two of them. We have tadpoles now.

And I think now is a good time to let weekly blogging go.

It’s becoming more and more difficult to find time to write even 140 words a week, and I’m fairly sure that, like in life, I have started to repeat myself.

I know a lot of people read this blog, and I am so, so grateful to everyone who has ever taken the time to read my tiny thoughts. I will keep this area live for writing news and occasional blog posts.

But for now – tiny over, and tiny out.

#atinylife patio

A new home is a clean slate. A new house is even clearer.

We’ve kept the inside as minimal as we can. People often ask if we’ve just moved in – we have one picture up, and a vast expanse in the kitchen that I use for yoga.

We were less confident when it came to the garden – at first we just needed turf, because house builders will happily sell you a house with no flooring and churned up dirt in the garden. Then came the pond (thanks again Linda!). Today we’re getting some more slabs down. I have my heart set on a picnic table and one of those fashionable sail-type shades – Mr HB isn’t keen…

I’ve never been much of a gardener, but this time round, I’m grateful for the opportunity to make this space all our own.

#atinylife tadpoles

I don’t think I’ve told you guys about my tadpoles. If you follow me on Instagram (@stella_hb) then you will have seen the precious babies (yes, this is how I feel about my tadpoles) on my stories.

We were naughty and ‘borrowed’ some frog spawn from a neighbour – you’re meant to wait for the frogs to come to you, but having realised (been reminded, thanks Linda) that our children were no longer of drowning age and dug the pond, I wanted tadpoles NOW.

I thought all the spawn had died in the late frosts, and then two weeks later – tadpoles! Everywhere! I visit them every day, take photos/videos, scrutinise them for the appearance of legs, and praise how fat they are getting (in a weird reversal of western beauty standards). I can’t wait until the pitter patter of tiny frogs.

#atinylife peopling

When I think about ‘getting back to normal,’ I’m usually thinking about how much I might be dreading it. The exhaustion is the same as people who move country feel, going about what would usually be their normal business. I’ve not exercised my peopling muscles for so long.

So last night was a wonderful reminder of what I have actually been missing.

A peaceful drive into Edinburgh. A parking space I could fit into, for free. Warm weather.

Dear, dear friends.

A celebration of a birthday – one of twenty seven I’ve now been part of with these guys. Talking about every decade we’ve spent together and apart. No need to avoid topics like gender – we’re all on the same page there. Good food. Hugs – finally! Hugs!

Thank you everyone who makes me feel like I might like peopling after all.

#atinylife gamer

I’m not a gamer. Not really.

However, I make an exception for an obscure little puzzle game called Chain Cube. You bash cubes with the same numbers on them into each other, and then they make another cube with the sum total of the numbers. My current score is 12564886.

I’m playing it less now. In those cranky days of home-learning, when the children needed me there, not to teach, not to do it for them (probably because I said I wouldn’t), but just to be in the room while they worked. Sometimes I had to sit in-between their two rooms.

It was the perfect activity. I could always be interrupted – and was, always – but I wasn’t sitting staring at the wall, waiting to be told that this spelling or that maths was too difficult.

Thanks Chain Cube. Sanity saver.

#atinylife blossomwatch

If I have to do the weekly shop (which is Mr HB’s job, on the basis that ‘I spend too much’), I like to go first thing – I didn’t during lockdown, of course, as the early hours were a time for vulnerable folk to shop. Driving out the village at 6:20am always feels a little exciting – so much of my life is house and child-bound and yes, I might be awake early, but getting out of the house is another story.

It’s still our first year at the new house, so my spirits rose as I passed a tree in full blossom on the side of the A7. The Japanese have it right with hanami, a tree full of flower is something to take time over, celebrate.

Yesterday was Blossom Watch day. Grateful to be on trend, for a change.  

#atinylife good day

The sun came out and

we were allowed to have people over in the garden and

they could be from another local authority area and

I made gluten free vegan brownies and

the kids played with nerf guns and

I hate toy guns and

I didn’t care and

I made tea and

Mr HB made coffee and

we bitched about stuff and

we did the crossword together and

we laughed and

we looked at the tadpoles and

the tadpoles are getting bigger and

they are moving around more too and

kids all played really well together and

later on we went down to the river and

it is really beautiful here and

today it is cloudy again and

I feel tired but it’s the good sort of tired and

I am so lucky to have had such a lovely day.

#atinylife sugarbowl

My paternal grandmother will be 100 this year. My mother died 13 years ago. My father, in a blend of grieving his wife and tending to his mother, has taken to giving his children pieces of family significance with every visit. At some point, he gave me a sugar bowl my grandmother purchased when she visited my parents shortly after my birth.

It’s a piece of pink English pottery. It is painted with a pastoral scene. It was once broken and glued back together, although one small piece was never found, so there is a small chip in the unlikely place of the middle of the bowl. I use the sugar bowl daily, although it doesn’t technically contain sugar. I say technically because I use a sugar substitute. Not everything my father hands off to us is quite as appreciated.

#atinylife backtoschool

It won’t be long now – I know, I’ve done nothing but whine about them being home. Now I’m sort of wondering if I’ll look back on home-learning with a tear in my eye. Like this lunchtime, I thought, ‘this is one of the last lunches you’ll have together in term time, isn’t that sad?’ My kids, however, are nothing if not reliable. Within five minutes they were screaming at each other about something screen-related, I assume. Which I won’t miss AT ALL. It’s been awful and exhausting – I never thought my children would cry daily after babyhood was over. At that same time, I’ve loved slowing down with them, focussing on them above everything else, getting right into what they are into (Star Dew Valley rules btw). I’ll wave them off joyfully but I wouldn’t give this time back, either.

#atinylife least

I’m writing this blog at 6:30am in a silent house, clouded over sky. The children are ‘on holiday’ but even when they are ‘at school,’ I still don’t get this kind of peace to write.

I believe this is exactly what I should be doing at this moment. It’s not just that other people ‘have it worse,’ it’s more like other people – nurses, cleaners, supermarket workers – are holding everything together, so I can sit here safe, and a virus can be minimised.

I don’t understand the folk that say we shouldn’t be in lockdown. Don’t they care about people who are at risk?

So I will stay home, and try to follow all the lockdown rules, and wash my hands, and wear a mask, for as long as I need to. It’s really the least I can do.