18 April 2014

Outside

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Spring walks in various parks and woodlands are such a joy. This week we had chance to take a meander with my mum and her dogs, including lots of daisy chain making and running around. Also including me trying to get the extremely elderly dog out of the lake. Thank goodness she managed to get out again, as she's almost blind and quite frail. Given the split second decision to catch the baby or the dog, mum saved Talia, and was then quite insistent that I not go in after the silly fur-baby.

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Good memories and bad ones all together. Isn't that just the way?

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I can barely believe that we planted that little stringy cutting from my mum's willow tree when Jenna was just a baby. When we moved in to this house we planted it from its big pot into the garden, and now it stands as tall as the house. I remember speculating as to how old she would be before she had a tree large enough to climb, and yet even by the time she was three it was sturdy enough for her first brave attempts. It has grown up with her, with all of them.

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The garden is such a blessing. The grass is still patchy (as in, there are actually some small patches of grass in places), and the bushes are leggy and unpruned. It's a wild space, mostly. But there is the promise of fruit in the pink on the apple tree, and so much laughter out there every day.

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17 April 2014

Fifth Birthdaying

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Those are sea pigs on her birthday cake. I never want to attempt tiny icing tentacles again in my life. She had a gloriously happy sunny day, though. And shared it with lots of friends. :)

16 April 2014

Yarn Along: sunshine and fantasy fiction

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I cast off the improvised gradient shawlette. Next time I dye this colourway I need to remember that if I want the yellow in the middle, I need comparatively little, and a lot more of the gradient needs to be in the blues. (Oops.) Oh but it does make a very pretty shawl. :)

I finished The Golem and the Djini towards the end of last week, and then loaned it out to my mum. She phoned us on the second day of her holiday to confess that she's been walking around with it because she can't put it down. It's a good read - intriguing, grown up, dark, funny, culturally rich.

I ran out of books again. I wish I lived nearer to the library - and that the library got new books in more often...

Oh, I also crocheted Rowan a quick little Berry Delight hat. Great pattern, and especially fun to make because I won the pattern in a giveaway. :) Thank you, Charmed By Ewe.

Joining in with Ginny and friends for a weekly round up of knitting and reading.

14 April 2014

Five Years

Ruby Doodle, I simply cannot believe how quickly the years with you are passing. Today you are five, and so amazing.
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You are a collector of stones, and sticks, and tiny plastic rainbow ponies, and wooden animals, and anything with the Octonauts on it. You stuff your pockets with different shaped leaves. Yet you are so generous with these collections, all these little things you like to bring everywhere in your bag or your coat!

You have the sweetest little singing voice, and the loudest yell I have ever heard. When you are happy, you radiate sunshine, your sweet little pixie grins are bestowed freely on everyone. You find such a lot of joy in every ordinary day. When you're unhappy, goodness don't we all know it. Five years, and I those storms still surprise me with their intensity - and with how quickly they pass. You are so passionate, so open, so enthusiastic. Never less than entirely given over to what captures your attention.
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Being your mummy is exhausting sometimes, but every single day is filled with laughter as I share in all your joys. Don't grow up too quickly, OK? As you used to remind me so often when you were smaller, you are still my baby.
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(And yes, you REALLY FREAKING LOVE that pink skirt. ;) )

13 April 2014

Seven Days - light and dark

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1. Roisin and Morgan frightening the shoppers in town!
2. Tired eyes
3. Jars of ponies
4. Stories for Talia
5. Rainbow sock yarn
6. First of several birthday celebrations
7. A sea pig - sort of!

10 April 2014

If the conversation can be turned towards fish, it will be.

An interview with Rowan, age four, which was going to be about what she thinks about being home educated and ended up being mostly about sea creatures and birthdays.

Me: So, it's your birthday soon?
Rowan: Yep, four days!
Me: Are you going to be four?
Rowan: NOoo, FIVE! I'm four right now.
Me: What does that mean?
Rowan: It means, I don't know. It's just a counting-years thingy.
Me: Years since what?
Rowan: Since I was borned. I've been here for five nearly-five years.
Me: You've been round the sun almost five times on this earth.
Rowan: With you! Round and round with you, Mumma.
Me: Yup. What will you do when you're five?
Rowan: Have a birthday cake with sea pigs on. I love sea pigs. They're like funny little pink slugs. You're going to make a hundred of them for my birthday, won't you?
Me: Maybe.... Will you go to school when you're five?
Rowan: No. School is scary.
Me: Whaaat? Why is school scary?
Rowan: I don't know. Not scary *really* just weird for me. I like to just play and play and play.
Me: Oookay... What do you play?
Rowan: Everything. Scooby Doo, and ponies, and making houses in the garden with the big heavy stage [a pallet], and lots of running around games. Sometimes I play Poisson Rouge. I like painting and looking at books and being with you.
Me: What do you learn at home when you're playing?
Rowan: I don't know. I learned how to write Morgan's name now. It's good being big because I can do lots of words now. I like to hear stories and watch Spongebob and hear about sea creatures. I'm going to learn all the different starfish.
Me: You're going to *learn* them all?
Rowan: Yes, I'm going to know all the different kinds soon. I'm going to hold one, too, at the Sealife centre for my birthday.
Me: Oh are you? What else will be there?
Rowan: Sharks in the big tunnel, but sharks are scary, except if you put a bow on its head like a big pink frilly one, then it would just be silly and funny. I might see a Nemo too, a clown fish? I like clown fish.

9 April 2014

Yarn Along - when exhausted from 2am wakings

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Plodding on with the improvised shawl. So so tired. Remind me, toddlers do eventually sleep, right?

New books - always a highlight. The Book of Lost Things is brilliant, quirky dark fairytale, I seem to be working my way through a pretty similarly-themed list here.

*yawn* This too shall pass, this too shall pass. And in the meantime, I have books and knitting.

Joining in with Ginny and friends.

8 April 2014

Good Enough

When I'm succeeding with my small business, I know about it. I get feedback from customers, and people want to stop by and tell me that my new uploads are gorgeous, or that the rainbows on my line made them smile. I have sales, I can point at the numbers and say, "See, I'm doing well!" I have a big stack of orders and assorted hand dyed yarn, and I can see where I am up to, and where all the hours went, and there is a provable amount of work "done".

Mothering isn't like that. Unschooling isn't like that. Being a stay at home parent isn't like that.

There's no set of easy-to-measure standards. Nothing I can point to as evidence that any work actually got done. Nothing is ever completed. Getting it right is an exactingly high hurdle which even on my best day I catch with a foot on the way over; if there *is* such a thing as a perfect parent I've never met one. I've met a lot of brilliant parents. A lot of people I would call my role models. A lot of people better than me in some areas, and worse in others (if it were a competition, which it isn't).

If I could only say for sure, at the end of each day, that I did enough. Something always gives. Is it better to shout and apologise once or twice, and yet make cupcakes and help with a science experiment and breastfeed on cue and patiently wait out an hour long screaming fit? Or is it better to sink into disengaged, get on with my own thing and not facilitate well but also not yell even once? Or is it better to have a "great day" then melt down the moment another adult comes into view, and potentially have a little one overhear me wail that I can't do it - am not good enough - not cut out for this?

Is there a scale, a degree of "good enough"?

This is where the rubber hits the road, in a life with ideals. When you are faced with choosing - which ideal is more important, what internal resources do you have left at eleven o'clock at night when someone isn't sleeping and someone else comes in to say they had a scary dream? When you want to know, am I done yet? Did I do enough today?

It isn't always like this. It isn't always an uphill climb.

Even when it's beautiful, and gloriously fun, and interesting, (and the light and the love and the peace are always there to be found, somehow) - there is still no end in sight, no way to say, "I KNOW I'm getting it right." Just, on those days, I don't usually ask the question. I can feel it, palpably, in the air, there is a flow - a sense of contentment.

If I take the happiness of my children as my ultimate goal, and my measuring stick, what kind of a mother am I when they are not happy - when life throws them things they would rather not deal with, when they have difficulty coming to an agreement, when they are ill or tired? Am I a failure if they are not happy? What kind of ratio is still within the limits of acceptable mothering? Every other measurement comes with its own drawbacks, and many are even more ephemeral and inconsistent and indefineable than simple happiness.

I would love to finish this rambling with an answer; easy, comforting, maybe a little over-simplified. I would like to comfort myself. My children are bright and busy, curious and usually healthy, mostly happy, learning all the time. I like them. I love them. And some days leave me empty, poured out, spent. The more tired I am, the more low, the more I try to wrap words around this experience - the more I long to understand it, and be understood. The harder I try the more words fall short.

I want to be enough. I want to be enough.

Is that enough?

6 April 2014

Seven Days - everyday adventures

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1. Dandelion fluff
2. Sweet potato falafel
3. Sewing chest (made by my grandad for my grandma)
4. Baby snuggling (and goodbyes)
5. Adventuring
6. Cinema followed by a sleep-over
7. Games time with friends

4 April 2014

Tenth Anniversary

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A while ago we had concocted a crazy plan to go up to the stone circle on the moors and make fresh vows to each other on our tenth anniversary. Our church wedding was perfect and meaningful to us, and we didn't feel the need to have anything that looked or felt like a repeat of that, and we wanted to be outside somewhere in the cathedral of nature. So although not pagan ourselves, we fixed on a spot that has been spiritually significant for a very long time.

Yesterday, as we drove higher in to the wilds, a white blanket of fog rolled down upon us shrouding the moors in mystery. We couldn't even see the path. Hmm, we thought, maybe best not to go up to the Nine Ladies... There was no way our plans would be wise or safe in those conditions. Instead we took a little trail up into the birch woods until we reached a sheer cliff and a mossy stack of mill stones. It felt right.

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Ten years; every possible up and down. Injury, illness, loss of family members, periods of depression and a child in hospital. The year when he almost walked away from our marriage - and the month when I almost let him. Four beautiful healthy happy children, so much learning and loving and living. The best of adventures. Travels and sunshine. We are still in love, and still best friends.

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We renewed our vows to the sound track of Talia playing on the Poisson Rouge app (because she kept wanting to run towards the very steep drop nearby). We all got thoroughly muddy and cold and wet. The mist muffled every noise, eerily changing the familiar landscape. It was an exceptionally memorable day. And beautiful, in every way.

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2 April 2014

Yarn Along - light and dark

I'm working on a crescent shawl using some gradient hand dye that a small child accidentally marked. I'm improvising, and hoping that my maths works out further down the line.

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Book-wise I just finished The Magicians and am halfway through The Magician King. These are dark, smart, interesting, twisted, adult books. Distopian fantasy; bitter and wry. Even the cover compares these novels to Harry Potter but really these are grown up Narnia, with more than a passing dig at the allegory and easy answers of that convention. I am thoroughly enjoying them, and I say this as someone who is still extremely attached to my C S Lewis. (Sex and drugs are mentioned more than in passing, so you might not wish to read these aloud to children. ;) )

Joining in with Ginny and friends for a round up of this week's knitting and reading.

31 March 2014

Sunny Picnic Afternoon

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The sun has been shining down from blue skies this weekend. We took our house guests to the park for a picnic, and Martin and Ashleigh and I all got significant baby-squishing time with little Violet. Talia calls all our visitors by each others' names, indiscriminately. She also pronounces "Leanne" rather like "Jane". Extra confusion - especially when I manage to call Cerys "Rowan" as I did this morning!

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(Yup, my toddler has a bubble-mix-and-sand mustache in that picture!)

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Rowan was removed from the very edge of the duck pond no less than seven times before she succeeded in her apparent aim, and fell in.

She also discovered that there is a nice echo in the toilet area.
"Mummy! It sounds like there are lots of you!"
"It does! What would you do with lots of mummies, Roo?"
"I'd find out which one was you and then I'd either kill or drown the rest."
O-kaayy. Adorable and rather creepy.

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We didn't walk far, just around the science garden areas, and then back to the car. My dad came and picked up enough of us that we could get home easily in one run. Picnic salad left overs were turned in to stir fry for a late tea, as we settled our crowds of children down for the night.

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I am so hoping for more sun this week, for the back door to be perpetually open for garden games and outdoor meals. There are six children and three adults in this little house right now, and it's wonderful, but we all prefer to not be cooped up for long!

Much like the chickens... Talia is daily setting them free to range unsupervised, and I am daily chasing them and rounding them up. I think the fuss and chaos is the most entertaining thing my monkey toddler can imagine!

30 March 2014

Seven Days - Rainbows and Visits

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1. Rainbow
2. Gymnastics
3. Lots of eggs!
4. Sister-wearing
5. Roo writing notes
6. Cerys meeting the chickens
7. Rainbow visitors

25 March 2014

Yarn Along - some solid coloured merino knits, for a change

So, on an otherwise pretty stressful day earlier in the week (grumpy toddler induced), I finished the black garter stitch slouchy. :)
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And then cast on chevrons (fingerless mittens, without much of a plan except to enjoy using some bright solids, and to evade the horribly delayed second Low Tide which I'm still procrastinating over):
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I am also desperately looking forwards to a peaceful few minutes when I can finally make a start on my new book! So far this week I haven't been getting much reading time (but in the evenings Martin and I have managed to watch a couple of the Avengers movies since we're SO behind). We're starting to get some evening time together, and Talia is sleeping longer - but still getting up crazily early of course. *yawn*

Joining in with Ginny and friends again (early, for tomorrow!), for a weekly round up of our knitting and reading. :)