I have so many memories associated with the city of Leeds. From McDonald’s Milkshakes and chatting to homeless people with my dad as a 5 year old, to visits of my cousins at probably the same age! Then there are all of the shopping trips with friends, The dates, Theatre visits, meals and Karaoke nights and general hang outs in my 20’s, to more recently the countless adventures with my little family. Leeds has been my home for the last 9 years but with our impending move, we are coming to the end of an Era.

I have loved Leeds for about 12 years, and when I had an opportunity to move here in the summer of 2008 with my best friend (and now Sister in law) I grabbed it with both hands and never looked back. It is a city I know well. A city I feel at home in and a place that has evolved and changed a lot even in the few short years we have been here. I suppose that in itself is very representational of how I too have done the same from being here in its midst.

Leeds is where we dated, where we became parents and where we built a home together. It’s a place I will remember with fondness for all of the adventures in my 20’s to the adventures with my children from being small to now. But our time now is coming to end and it feels strange…a little emotional, but most definitely right for us. I will miss so many things about living here, and of course so many people too, but what we are moving onto is something we hope will be great for us all, and better for our future and general lifestyle.

And so yesterday, with our move hopefully just a couple of weeks away, we spent one last day together down the familiar bustling streets of Leeds. We visited the shopping scene, ate at Subway, and wandered around the market… just one last time as residents of this awesome city. We spoke of memories here, and acknowledged that this quite possibly is the last time in a long time we will be here together as a family. We remembered how we would visit Lush, The Lego Shop and Apple store as an ordinary day out on the train before the kids started school. We remembered the weekly museum visits when they were little and how the city changes with each season. We remembered friends past and present and the great times we have shared with them. And we lapped up our ordinary moment of city living one last time.

Over the next few weeks we will be packing, moving and starting a new chapter. Life in Leeds will be a thing of the past and any future visits will be as guests! It has been a chapter and series of chapters that have been jam packed with beautiful memories and incredibly hard times too. A chapter of great lessons, falling in love, changing and personal growth. Chapters of friendships and lost friendships…laughter, tears, heartache, more love, babies and copious amounts of fun.

Leeds is where I became a mother 4 times over, where my children learnt to walk and talk. It is where I made great friends and grew in numerous ways. It is where we faced huge struggles but also felt abundantly blessed and happy. It has been home to our ordinary moments for so long, but it is now the end of an era.  And whilst we are excited to move house, I am pretty sad too to be saying goodbye to this City I love so much!

I will miss the spontaneous fun of jumping on a train and being in its heart in 10 minutes. I will miss lunches at Costco and browsing round the markets with friends…the museums on our doorstep, and Ikea and the Cinema 5 minutes from our home. I will miss city life, but I am excited for country life. This has been a great adventure of wonderful highs and incredible lows, and the time is here that we must move on and forward in life away from its familiarity, and it has never felt so right. Its the end of an era and goodbye to our ordinary…but it is also hello to new adventures, friends and memories yet to make.

The Ordinary Moments
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After a lovely trip up to Harrogate on Tuesday with Alice, to speak at a bereavement care training, yesterday left me feeling rather deflated. I realise that as much I love to raise awareness and talk about my baby girl, the emotions it resurfaces are always hard to take on. It isn’t so much as to stop me doing it, I never could I don’t think, but it is something to be aware of…it really takes it out of you.

This week has been very simple and so I have been grateful for the lovely sunshine and evenings hanging at the park with the kids and their school friends.

Harrogate bargs

There is certainly something rather exciting about visiting charity shops in a posh place! I don’t know about you but I always feel (on the whole) that the quality of donations is somehow a little better and it’s a little more exciting. I know the past I have even arranged with friends to do the charity shops in a more upmarket location haha!

In this situation I was there anyway and was done with my duties by 11.30, so figured after a heavy morning I not only deserved a treat (sushi from boots) but a little bit of retail therapy too. I was not disappointed either. I picked up the Lion King and Bambi for £1.50 each, and Ethan an Autumn/Winter coat for this year (aged 7) which was originally from Next and was just £3.50. It’s in excellent condition, thick and cosy, and the ultimate bargain to put away.

Charity Shop Haul

From Harrogate to our local town, I had a another sneaky visit to the charity shops yesterday.  When I’ve little to do and few people to see I often find myself just popping around town and checking things out.

Yesterday I wasn’t on the hunt for anything, it was more just being nosy, passing time and getting Alice to sleep. But it usually in these situations that you find a few Gems. I was pleased to get myself a cool denim dungarees dress for 2.99 and a fab mustard sweatshirt again for only 2.99. Both bargains, my style and just lovely.

Next I got Ethan a couple of pairs of shorts for 1.50 and 1.99, He goes through clothes like no other and as always has had a big growth spurt since last summer. On the way out I spotted for Megs a lovely Russian doll print dress for 1.99 and so snapped that one up too!

Finally I found Ethan a funky red and white striped duvet set in immaculate condition for £3.99. He LOVES the colour red and has high hopes for a red bedroom in the new house. I am not one to buy second hand bedding usually but this one was so good and so him, I couldn’t not at that price.

Spring Onions

This week I saved money on spring onions for our salads by re-sprouting them. It is a really simple way to save some money as the bits with roots that we chopped off were placed in a cup of water and a week later we had new spring onions. FOR FREE!!! I love them at this time of year.

Ice creams at the park

The only down side to sunny days and after school park hangouts is that the kids whine like no other for an ice cream – Every.Single.Time.  The ice cream van sits there tempting them, and annoying me, and so to avoid spending at least a fiver on tacky Ice Creams, I took them an Ice cream out of the freezer from home to cut back on the pounds. They scoffed it coming out of school and loved it… Tasty and cheap, and eliminated the whines!

I believe as is true with England, the weather is set to rain this weekend, which is a bit of a let down with the lovely sunshine! Have a great weekend and enjoy it – whatever the weather chooses to do!

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Modest clothing is something that is really important to me for a number of reasons. This choice and viewpoint with out a doubt comes from my religious lifestyle, but I am also very conscious of wanting to maintain my personality and personal style through fashion and the things I wear, as well as being modest in my look.

Dressing modestly to me means that I wear my skirts, shorts and dresses to my knee (or longer), my tops have sleeves and are cut in a way so as not to show off my cleavage, shoulders, stomach (not that you’d want to see that), or too much back! Whilst to some it may seem a little out dated, we probably all wear modest fashion day to day without even consciously realising it. For me however it is a conscious choice, and one that makes me both happy and helps me maintain a sense of peace and confidence in my life.

Both myself and my friends are always on the hunt for clothing that fits the bill, and as a result I recently discovered JD Williams , who whilst on the surface seem to be more aimed at middle aged women, their ranges have many a hidden gem to maintain style and modesty together.

Sunday Best:

I ordered from them a skirt, a blouse and shoes that I felt would be great for a Spring/Summer look for church, weddings and special occasions. As Sundays is the only day I am guaranteed to look good with my hair done and something a little fancy/dressy on, I like to have clothes that feel a little more glam/cool than the average school run/park/town days. It’s Sunday and we always go to church, and I believe in wearing my Sunday best!

The skirt is from Grazia and is currently on sale for £34! It is made from scuba which is something I was never keen on, but I couldn’t love it more! It’s thickness helps it puff out a little and is super comfy to wear and move in (especially when chasing kiddies!). I love that the bold print is very reflective of me, and the rich colours are right up my street. I am not usually a floral person, but there is something about the bright colours on the black that give it a funky feel. And best of all it is below my knee and sits well on my waist ticking my modesty box!

This skirt is definitely an investment – a) because its modest, and b) because it can be worn with heels and sandals in the Spring/Summer, or paired with a polo neck and Opaque tights and ankle boots/black heels in the Autumn/Winter.

Next up is my Blouse. I love a good light neutral blouse for the summer and this one is lovely. The gold chain trim around the neckline keeps it modern and very me, whilst the cut is modest and cool for warmer weather. It goes great with the skirt, and I know it will also look good with any number of my other skirts, skinny jeans and trousers in my wardrobe… it is one of those versatile go to tops for any occasion.

Finally my shoes. Who doesn’t need a pair of suede fuschia heels in their wardrobe? These are so me, and will update a lot of outfits I wear for church; either bringing out the pink in them, brightening a darker number, or as a statement with a contrasting colour! The chunky low heel is really comfy and easy to walk in all day. They were only £25 which I thought was pretty good for a pair or lovely shoes. I rarely by shoes online but these are great…I have skinny ankles and whilst they are little loose around them, they are still comfy and great.

I had lots of compliments on my outfit this last Sunday and it definitely made me feel a bit glam and bright! I was also featured on the #notafrumpymum round up on Instagram. Not bad!

A few other items that I loved whilst browsing their site, which I again thought were both cool and modest, were these:

My outfit is really flexible, comfortable, glam, feminine, cool, and perfect for church, weddings, christenings and any other special occasion this summer. It helps be a cool mum as well as being modest and lovely…Who’d have thought this website had so many lovely things for us younger peeps?

I seriously believe that modest style doesn’t have to be boring or drab, and I always ensure it isn’t.

*Collaborative post. I was sent the items pictured in return for the review. 

Best of Worst
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I am kind of stuck at the moment. Stuck with knowing if Alice is our last baby, or if we will go on and have another one (or 2). If you ask Nathan he will irrevocably declare “yes she is and we are DONE”! But for me it doesn’t feel that clear or easy even…For someone that has spent so long longing for another baby it seems so odd to ever feel like I wouldn’t want more kids. I always imagined myself as a mum of 6 kids. I don’t know why 6, it seems like a crazy mad number, but its an even number, and a number big enough to justify driving a mini bus!

There really is no greater feeling than that of holding a precious new baby, but then you quickly realise that being a mother/parent is far more stressful, and much more hard work than cooing over your new born all day.

You never imagine when you say how many kids you would like that you may face child loss, illness, financial struggle, or just realise how blumming hard and soul destroying raising a family truly is.

Of course it is wonderful too and there are lessons I have learn’t that only my kids and being a mother could teach me, (and the highs most definitely outweigh the lows).

I am now 32. I am a healthy woman who has thankfully had no struggle with getting pregnant. But then on the flip side of that, pregnancy has always being a massive strain for me. I have had hyperemesis, diabetes and undiagnosed SPD, along with one c-section, 2 bouts of PND and then a stillbirth. The toll on my body and mental well being has being evident and I could quite easily say “I’m done now” for all of those reasons, but somehow I don’t feel it yet.

I have brought 4 babies into this world, my body is not what it once was and with the cheek of my now 6 year old, I don’t know if I could cope with any more. But then there comes the growing up of number 4 and the packing away of baby things… the moments when there is so much joy and harmony in our family and I wonder – Could I do it again? Should I do it again? Another son would be nice… a little playmate for Alice would be lovely.

I seem to have had so many conversations and read a lot of blogs recently about “The final member of the family” as being the phase people all around me are in… its the “now our family is complete” phase, and planning the future minus babies, and every time I hear it, I ask myself “how did they know?”, “When will I know?”!!

The A-Z of being done!

I know that having a family is a very personal choice and between each couple. The number sometimes is as much a surprise for some as it is a choice for others, but thankfully some of my fellow bloggers have kindly shared their experiences of family planning and together we have come up with an A – Z of knowing when you’re done!! (Its a bit of fun really so hope you enjoy!).

 

A is for “Age” and realising that your child bearing years are a thing of the past!

Deborah from Country, heart and home

“We had six before deciding we were finished and after having really bad SPD with my last 3 we realised that hitting 40 meant it was time to call time on the baby factory!”

B is for Broody and not feeling it anymore

Chelle from chellemccann.com

“I knew after Jude – I’m so over babies and don’t coo at all anymore!”

C is is for “Complete” and knowing your family is just that

Zoe from Mama Geek

“When we had Lydia we just knew that our family was complete, and we haven’t changed our mind since. No regrets! I always wanted three but just had an overwhelming gut feeling that we were done once we took Lydia home. Both Georgie & Lydia’s pregnancies and births were difficult and the problems would likely to reoccur (and be worse) with a third pregnancy so it’s probably for the best anyway! My husband said he couldn’t face seeing me go through another pregnancy & labour”

D is for  “Doctors” and them advising it

Jen from Mum in the Mad House

“We were forced to be done due to a medical issue. We wanted four – ended up with two and those two took ten years, 3 miscarriages (twins at 20 weeks which was horrible) and a molar pregnancy.
There are only 14 months between the boys so it can be challenging and more children would have helped with their dynamic. I see this more and more as my best friend has four boys.
I have to say that there are days when I long for another child, however, realistically it will never happen. The husbeast is now in his 50’s and he would hate to go back to the baby stage.”

E is for “Everything baby” is now sold/gotten rid of and you are okay with that
F is for “Fate” and it deciding more or less than you planned/hoped for

Collette from We’re Going on an Adventure

“Dave wanted three until we’d had one and then decided we’d stick at two>
Fate won out in the end”

G I thought would naturally be a “Gut Feeling” (Which is covered in J&K) so another that came up was  “Guilt” & “Gratitude for Gods Blessings”

Lizzie from The Mother Diaries 

“I personally would love to have another but the biggest reason I wouldn’t is because I don’t want to upset the apple cart. God blessed us with two healthy babies and I feel lucky enough to have these two. My second reason is because whenever we consider it I feel guilty to the two we already have. My final reason is cost. Children are so freaking expensive! We want to tour the world with our babies and if we had any more children, it’d fill our hearts of course but it’d empty our pockets and our dreams to travel may not be possible”

H is for “Health” reason which are numerous (Physical or Mental)

Lucy from Real mum reviews 

“I know that my second baby will be my last baby. Before she was born I would’ve quite happily had more, but after getting Sepsis after her birth and being in hospital for 4 weeks I have decided I can’t risk my health again and need to be here for the two I’ve got!”

Kate from Family Fever 

“After 4 very difficult pregnancies and 4 C sections, my body is definitely done with growing babies. To have more would be risking my health, and that isn’t fair on the children we have already. My youngest was the only one of my babies who wasn’t whisked away to SCBU at birth, and that helped me to feel ‘complete’ and come to terms with the fact there would be no more babies.”

I is for “IVF” and not wanting to do it again…or not being able to afford that road

Amber from Meet The Wildes  

“We’ve had four so far – two sets of twins within two years. I don’t think we’ll ever be ‘done’ but we’re going in for one last baby this summer and then we’re going to focus our hard-earned pennies on something other than IVF for a bit; we just can’t afford more than five.”

J  is for when you “Just Know”

Jade From Raising the Rings

“I’ve had two and I just know I’m not done. I’ve always said I’d love three so I think mentally I’d feel like I was finished then although Jamie would be happy to have no more children. It’s one of those things when you ‘just know’ “

K is like J – you “KNOW”

Angela from Adventures in Websterland  

“You just know it in your heart I think. I had a 12 year age gap between having my 2nd and 3rd because I knew deep down I wasn’t done. After my 4th I just knew he would be the last it’s hard to describe the feeling.”

L is for “Limit” and reaching it (mentally/physically).

Hannah from Budding Smiles

“Essentially Toby destroyed my soul and Martha destroyed my body, but on a serious note, I look at photos of the four of us and I know that this is us, forever more. I love that.”

Louise from A Strong Coffee to Go 

“To be brutally honest if we had waited longer to have our third, we may have come to the conclusion we were done at two! I know some people find it easy, but I find three draining and expensive. I am too tired and broke to want anymore and I am happy with my little of band of boys and feel very lucky to have them.”

M  is for “Money” and feeling the burden of the cost of raising them

Mary- Kate from mummymemories

“I know that we are finished having children because we simply could’nt afford to have anymore, we want to be able to give the two children we do have the best possible life that we can afford to and treat them to football, ju jitsu, cricket clubs, ballet tap dance ect. If we had a third we would need a bigger house, a bigger car and we couldnt afford to do any extras, to be honest we couldnt afford a bigger house!!. I feel very lucky to have two children and even luckier to have 1 of each. Plus its hard having kids, my mum had 8 so I think that put me off having a big family. Second labour went all wrong with a cord prolapse and its not something I would want to do ever again. We have just got married and if one more person asks me if Im having another child I may scream at them. Its a stupid question that shouldnt be asked. Im looking forward to others having babies I can cuddle and give back!”

N is for when you get to your “Number”. Be it 1,2,3 or 10. You always just know that is the number you want and will feel complete at.

Colette (Again from Going on an Adventure blog ) 

“I always knew I was going to be mum to three but my husband wasn’t convinced. I never felt “done” after we had our second and though our third wasn’t planned and it took us a while to get used to the idea, I knew it was right. When she was born I just knew I was done, it was like someone flicked a switch. I don’t get broody any more, I love other people’s babies but have no desire to add anymore to our family. Three is our number.”

O is for your “order” is now complete

Beth from Twinderelmo  

“We always wanted three so after one boy – we had twins! This definitely signalled the end of our baby days!”

P is for when your “Partner” says no, and so unless you have one with someone else, it looks like your “done”!

Katie from Mummydaddyme

“I said that my second baby would be my last baby. She wasn’t. I said my third baby would be my last baby. Sadly I think he is going to be unless we a} win the lottery or b) I have one with someone else according to my husband.”

Clare from Mudpie Fridays

“I would love one but hubby is not keen now we have two (plus I have an auto immune disease which makes it difficult to conceive leaving to miscarriage and a whole host of issues in my last pregnancy). So despite being desperate for a little girl its not going to happen… sob.”

Q is for when you no longer “Question” it

Chermaine from Chammy IRL

“I didn’t expect to be done at one. I originally planned two or three and we tried for almost 5 years for a second. I then realised I was content with what I had, I didn’t NEED another and we worked well as a family of three.”

R is for Risk and not wanting to take it again (usually after a loss, complication or health issue)

Laura from Five little doves

“We knew that our last was our last, because although my family would never be complete, I knew that I couldn’t put my family, or my body, through the risk of having another”

S is for knowing it is “Sensible” to stop at where you are at

Chloe from Sorry About the Mess

“I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to tell when I’m truly ‘done’. I’ve called my third baby our final baby since the early days of pregnancy with him, because that is what my partner and I agreed. That was the plan. But I know in my heart I could always have space for more children, and I feel gutted to think that he is the last baby. We just had to draw a line under it, according to what was most sensible for our family”.

T is for Time… You’re in a new time and phase of life now

Mandi from Hex mum Blog

“I knew about six months ago that we were done, there has been 2-3 years between each of our seven children, so this is now the longest time I haven’t been pregnant in nearly 20 years! Our eldest is about to venture off to university and the youngest will be 4 in September, so no longer needs mum as much, our life stage has moved on and I certainly don’t miss the sleepless nights!”

U is for “uno” and that been your world

Rosie from Mummy and Boo

“I often get lynched for this but… I knew I was done the minute I had Boo, people often assume that because I have one child that I must want more – but the truth is I can’t imagine it ever being anything more or less than me and Boo”

V is for the “void” and knowing it has been filled

Hannah from The Simple Things 

“We have four little ones aged between 7 and (almost) 2 and when we had three I felt like a part of me was missing, even straight after our third Amy arrived. Now we have Ava I don’t feel like that anymore, I feel like our family is complete (that or I know I just couldn’t cope with any more chaos!)”

W is for “Work” and wanting to progress careers?

Laura from WaffleMamma

Whilst Laura still isn’t sure something she said stood out to me –
“There are so many reasons to draw a line under our baby days and move on as a family of four, like my bad back, anxiety, not being able to buy a bigger house, wanting to progress our careers again, start our own business and get some us time back. But then there are all the things we could have again like that exciting feeling of knowing you are creating a whole new person.”

X is for the years of  seeing a “X” telling you you aren’t pregnant and it just being too hard

Victoria from Verily Victoria Vocalises  

“I don’t think I will ever be done wanting babies but the one I am pregnant with now is definitely my last as I cannot see any other way. It has taken us nearly 4 years, 2 losses and 2 rounds of IVF to be able to complete our family plus I am nearly 46. Another one is so very unlikely.” 

Y is  “You” – You hate pregnancy and you aint doing that no more! Or like some of my friends maybe you want “you” back.

Michaela from Adventures of A Yorkshire Mum 

“After having my third baby (and also two miscarriages), I just couldn’t do it anymore. All of my pregnancies were horrendous – I hated every minute of being pregnant as I suffered with HG most of the way through each one. I ended up in hospital a lot due to dehydration and high blood pressure too. So for us we just knew that we didn’t want any more”

Z – zzzz You get used to sleep at night and never wish to go back to anything else

I have heard this said amongst other mum’s before and thought of it again with Mandi’s comment for “T”.

So there you have it. Where are you on the scale?

I would say that I am possibly at “P” but then who knows with time how either of us will feel. I don’t like to think that this is it but then like I say, some days I am at my limit! One thing that did stand out to me and resonated was that a lot of the mum’s I spoke to said that they don’t think they will ever be done, and some, although they had many reasons to be done, they couldn’t quite accept that either. I suppose health and Age will play a huge part for us all?

I also realised that with reading Gemma’s blog “Somewhere after the Rainbow” and Laura’s comment from Fivelittledoves (A couple of my faves), that in all of this that I could quite easily reach any number of these points and never feel my family is complete or ” done” because there will always be a member of our family missing from our home, pictures, and life.

Nathan says “No more” but I am not so sure. I am hoping that like the way I have always “felt” something about big choices, that with this one too I will just know!!!

How did you know?

 

My Petit Canard
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