31 July 2007

Conversations between preschoolers

My cousins are staying with my mum this week, and Jenna and my youngest cousin are quite the double act. They both have the ability to make themselves known most clearly, and they both like to be the boss. I love listening to them, it’s a real insight into the world of tiny people.

Jenna – I won
Naomi – No I won
Jenna – No I won
Naomi – No I won
Rachel (my aunty) – You both won. It was a draw.
Jenna – It isn’t a draw, we don’t have any pencils.

Jenna – Look, a spider!
Naomi – I’m frightened of spiders.
Jenna – It’s not scary, don’t worry. Don’t touch him or you might hurt him.
Naomi – I’m not going to touch him.
Jenna – He won’t like it if you touch him.
Naomi – I’m not going to touch him – I’m frightened!
Jenna – It’s only a little spider.

Anyhow, today we went to Woolaton Hall which I can recommend MOST highly. The museum and exhibits were fabulous, really really lovely, and we had a great day there. Jenna has picked up some funny things from my family though, and has come home calling everyone “poppet” lol.

29 July 2007

Anyone want to baby-sit my hens?

The spare money for the month isn’t spare any more. We decided on an expansion for the chicken run for definite so we’re going to put other things on hold to get the best we can. It will make having someone Chicken-sit a lot easier too though we don’t know who will be doing it while we’re away yet. I don’t want to ask my Dad but there isn’t really anyone else. Volunteers?

Anyway, main point of my entry today, to praise my husband. I just don’t appreciate him enough but he’s amazing and gentle and sweet and kind. And he understands what a big deal it is to a nursing mother to be able to get a bath on her own once in a while… :)

28 July 2007

Stop talking Mummy, you're giving me a headache...

Housework can be so freeing, I just feel on top of the world and all I did was clear some junk that was well overdue my attention! The mantelpiece is clear and the sitting room looks great, it’s like being in a new house (and one that I really love living in). I have new bookcases too (well, second hand) so I have space to fill!

We have a huge cardboard box in the middle of the lounge right now, but I don’t want to get rid of it really because the girls both love it. We had to remove all of the huge staples that had been used against all common sense to hold it closed, but now it is kiddy safe and it seems to be the best toy ever invented. Morgan keeps shutting herself in it, to the endless amusement of her sister.

The small one had her first ever mush for breakfast this morning. She held the spoon herself and I just had to help her load it up. It was so cute and so funny seeing her do it so tiny and young and new. I like the lack of mess from the puree I can tell you that, but I’m still 100% enjoying baby led weaning.

Jenna still has the attitude. She told me today as we were eating lunch (and I was nagging a little I’ll admit), “stop talking, Mummy, you’re giving me a headache!”

27 July 2007

Insurance searching ARGH and Jenna-with-the-three-attitude

I’ve been trying to get home insurance quotes. I can’t even talk about it. How can it be helpful to let me select options that you DON’T EVEN PROVIDE??! Not to mention when I give a preference about four times and get a quote and go through applying for that policy and only find on the detailed policy document that it doesn’t include what I asked for.

It’s on hold, we have lived thus far without insurance as bad as that sounds. Low income, what can you do? We could hardly lose the house because we couldn’t keep up with the rent, so we had to do without something and that was it. If it wasn’t so damned complicated though, we’d have sorted it out once and for all today.

I’ve been thinking about all the sewing jobs upstairs and I’m either going to get my machine mended or buy a new machine, but to be honest it feels a little like I shouldn’t be spending money on me. We’ve so recently actually had any money I don’t want to take it for granted.

This week is going much better after a really bad week with Jenna, she really has this sudden attitude and I have no idea from where. I’m trying to be patient and, well, I’m doing better. Let’s put it that way. We’re focussing on feeding back to her how she’s feeling when she’s in a mood and it’s helping me to connect with her and not view her as a problem to be fixed.

25 July 2007

A day in the life of a Chicken owner

It is morning, and I am finally up and dressed. The dressed part is the tricker for having two small children to assist and likewise help in dressing themselves. Jenna is already on her second outfit and I have just put her breakfast in front of her. Morgan is in the sling already, having got bored of the floor in the time it took for me to drink a mug of peppermint tea and eat a slice of toast. Music is playing quietly (or possibly on a bad day, Ceebeebies). It's time to let the Ladies out.

I go into the garden, yelping as Morgan pulls my hair, open the gate for the outer run and then latch the door to the chicken house open. Two fat ginger birds push past me and make a run for the green spaces beyond. I go back into the house taking their feed bowl with me, and look for a headscarf to stop the giggling smallest child from taking any more of my hair out.

Making up the mash with some warm water, and finding a cup to put some assorted seeds in, is easy. I fill the water up to the top from the barrel by the shed and put the food bowl down. One hen runs to take a look, the other is eating the seed pods from my lily which I am sure is poisonous but I figure she probably knows better than I do. I try to point out a slug to her but she doesn't care. Perhaps slugs are poisonous to chickens? I check whether the straw bedding needs a change and collect an egg (perhaps).

The ladies take their morning exploration seriously. If I know the children will play outside then they can be out most of the day, but if they are unsupervised they have to go back into the run as I can't risk the council asking us to get rid if they keep escaping over the fence. I nip back inside for my cup of tea and realise from my reflection in the mirror that Morgan is asleep up there on my back in her sling.

I finish the tea and put the mug down on the bench, then throw the seeds into the run area calling, "chook chook chook chook - heeeerre chicken, heeere chick chick chickens!" They come running and I shut the door. We have been outside about half an hour in total.

Later I come back and check for eggs again and give them more time to roam if they didn't get a nice long time in the morning. In the evening I come a third time and check the food and water before giving them a last chance to get some greens and scratch in the soil behind the compost heap, then shut them in for the night. If it is dark then they are already inside, making soft feathery sounds of sleep, and I just quietly shut the door on them.

Now I'm sure they'd be fine if I just visited for food and roaming in the morning and then shut the inner door late at night, but they would be BORED. They might cluck quite a bit. They might even start pecking each other. But everyone I know is either working, or chicken phobic, or a combination of other factors! What are we going to do??

23 July 2007

Passing time, birthday planning, other random stuff

It’s only a month now until Jenna turns three, which most people around me (who don’t have children) don’t seem to realise makes me feel really old. And also like time has REALLY gotten away from me. I just can’t put it into words, and every parent tries and fails, what it means to daily lose your child and get back another in his or her place.

We have been thinking about birthday traditions and trying to cut down the present buying a little, as well as encouraging people to add to her “presents box” rather than wrapping things in expensive paper. The new candle train also arrived, complete with numbers and little animal decorations. I can’t wait to see what she thinks of it! We’re not doing a big cake this year, just lots of little fairy cakes with plain icing and rainbow candles. I am so proud of my big little lovely girl.

It’s nice to see how close Morgan and Jenna can be sometimes too. I guess they have their normal little fights over toys and stuff like that, but really the love between them makes me come over all mushy. I feel, well, secure about them in a different way from how I did before. No matter what they have each other. OK so I come from a family where the siblings are fairly close, but I do want that for them.

On a more trivial note I am looking for plain paper books for the girls (for Christmas) as lined notebooks just aren’t the same. I don’t like lined books for myself so how are they expected to when almost everything they want to do is scribbling?! It’s just impossible, the only place is WHSmiths and they’re huge and heavy and £5 each!

18 July 2007

Argh she really IS growing up...

Jenna just asked for and ate a whole apple! This is news because usually she wakes up asking for an ice-lolly, to which the answer is that she must have some cereal or toast first. The lollies are only fruit juice after all, so I hardly need to restrict them. She doesn’t usually ask for fruit though.

She said, “don’t take the skin off, I’m a little girl now, I like the skin.” And she was true to her word, she ate the lot. I don’t normally take the skin off until she asks me to, but she *does* usually ask!

Today, so far, we have walked to the shops for toilet roll. We have fed and watered the chickens and let them roam. We have cleared the top of the fireplace. We have painted glitter glue pictures and made some more fish for her little paper aquarium project. We have planted some courgette plants. We are doing well!

17 July 2007

Nagging vs reminding

I had a timely reminder today of why we keep enforcing the stay-close-to-mummy rule in town. We lost Chloe. Jenna had already been lost about an hour earlier – in a shop we turned a corner and she didn’t notice, so she stood where she was and yelled for me to come and help her, and a lady pointed her to where I was standing, literally within reaching distance if the shelves hadn’t been there.

As we were walking down from Sainsbury’s (I had needed glycerine for glitter shakers), Jenna stopped at some automatic doors because she insists that they be closed when she approaches them so that they open for her. EJ was behind us with her two, and I was keeping my eye on whether Jenna was ever going to make it through the doors with all the people milling around and setting off the opening mechanism again!

When we all got back together finally, Chloe was gone. We searched for her frantically, me pushing the pushchair and trying to stop Jenna also running off (totally distressed and crying, “Chloe can’t have gone away, I LOVE her.”). EJ ran from shop to shop, we put out the description over the radio, “a little girl with long blonde hair, white cardigan, peach vest top, denim skirt, stripy tights” but she was nowhere to be seen. It was awful, one of the most frightening things to happen to us.

When we found her (playing happily in a shop) EJ made her hold on, and she tried to get free and hung off her arms like Jenna does when she wants to run. She hadn’t been upset by it at all, but my friend was shaking and had been pretty close to tears.

So, I’m telling myself, if EJ and I feel like awful nags sometimes and hate restricting our children’s freedom then it’s for a good cause. I’m also telling myself that it isn’t nagging if I state the rule, make it happen, state the rule again for a separate offence, enforce it again… Nagging is when I repeat the rule over and over for the same incidence without backing it up.

16 July 2007

Garden update

My vegetables are officially NOT doing so well. The lettuces are long gone thanks to chickens and slugs, next year I need to work out a much better protection for them. As far as the chickens go I think perhaps I need a more sturdy method of fencing the area off, I've seen some frames with chicken wire designed for the purpose and I'm thinking of attempting a build... My carrots seem to have gone the same way overnight, and I had thought that at least five or six were doing really well!

The chickens are back to full laying capacity though, so my precious self-sufficiency has done someone some good. I suppose it makes up for all the rain they've been putting up with, and the fact that they are not free range all the time out of trust issues (lol). Oh, and my garden is still managing to produce blackberries (which urgently need harvesting), herbs, and tomatoes (small and green). The courgettes and peppers seem undecided, as does the late planting of potatoes.

Our new swing is getting a lot of use in spite of the continuing rain and is providing great entertainment, I've never heard Morgan laugh so much as the first time I put her in for a ride.

15 July 2007

Another car weekend

We had a totally glorious day on Saturday. Taking a trip to Calke for the day in the sun, picnicking and being out of doors… Bliss.

On the way home Jenna said she was sad because she hadn’t got to play on the playground (we couldn’t find it and anyhow it is meant to be being replaced so we weren’t sure it would be open)… So Martin took a detour to Markeaton so that Jenna could spend a happy hour and a half playing. The car has been a real blessing this weekend, and I’m so glad we can have occasional access to my mum’s vehicle.

14 July 2007

More thoughts - mostly on plastic toys!

I had another thought about the party this morning so I had to come back to add some more. The toys! I’ve never seen a house like it! Daniel has *everything*, it’s like a toy shop – two rooms with storage and hundreds of plastic things. Everything I forbid in fact, plastic and lights and buttons and batteries and noise. And about ten kids all trying to outdo each other for the parental irritation they can provoke.

One thing that was bothering me apart from my obvious annoyance with noise and lights (intolerant mummy)… The toys can only be one thing. True, children find a way around that, but why should they have to? A mobile phone with lights and ring tones and buttons with numbers is ONLY a mobile phone. A red fire truck with hose and siren and ladder is ONLY a fire truck. A perfect replica tool set with whirring electric screwdriver is ONLY a tool set.

Now think about a set of plain wooden arches. Same cost as the phone. An arch is a house, a cave, a doll cradle, a phone, a bridge for three billy goats, a rainbow for fairies to walk on, a stable, a car seat, a roof, an add-on to turn the toy car into a double decker bus… Think about a plain, large, simple toy car (I saw one this week for £6 and I’d guess the fire engine came in at three times that). It’s an ambulance, it’s a family car, it’s a fire truck (with a straw taped to the roof and a tape measure for the ladder), it’s a bus with the arch on top, it’s a second tractor to go on the farm with the red one (which is her most common choice to play “fire engine”)… Think about a set of bricks. They can be ANYTHING. Actually her most common use for the bricks is as babies for her to carry around in a huge basket! Don’t ask me, I wish I *could* see the world through her eyes.

None of that is stuff I’ve made up, it’s all play that I’ve observed, been party to, or had to step over to get to the door! This kind of play is good for her, it is growing and learning and living. How much of the single-use-toy culture is simply encouraging passivity, a tendency to get bored of the toy very quickly, and a consumer culture that says, “find me something to do” rather than “let’s make this work in our own way and extend the fun!”?

I want to grow a learner, not force a conformer. So as temporarily fun as the plastic stuff is, I won’t buy it. Her own discernment dictates my justification – she soon abandoned all the lights and noise to find a quiet corner in which to baby a wooden rattle in a box that she had emptied of plastic instruments.

13 July 2007

Busy day, school thoughts, and defense of limiting sweets

Another mad day, swimming and visiting, Daniel’s birthday party and spending time with my mum. One thing worth telling is that I visited the school mum has been working at and seen the teacher I had at age 9. She was blown away by the children –she kept saying (in shock) “You’re a grown woman – and haven’t you done well!” She told all the kids we saw that I was her best student ever (one of those things teachers say about ex-pupils) but it really hasn’t made me all mushy about my own school memories! No nostalgia – she was one of the very few teachers I ever had that didn’t patronise me, and she wrote on one report that she considered me to be a friend rather than a child.

Jenna seemed so unfazed by the school setting, and every classroom we went into she found a seat at a table and started chatting to the children (all of them ages 8-10). It was nice to see a school going in a positive direction, and I’m confirmed in my assertion that I’m not anti-school. I’m anti-testing. I’m anti-curriculum. I'm anti-one-size-fits-all. I’m anti-“early years”. But this school was working hard to consciously make the best of what they’d got and maximising the freedom they could get to do what was needful rather than what was targeted by the Powers That Be.

The party gave me a timely reminder. I’m letting Jenna have more say over what she eats but I’m still finding that I really can’t let her have sugar as anything more than an occasional lapse. The chocolate coy milk is her lot actually right now, because it causes her such big problems. I’ve been asking myself, “what would happen if I just said yes” about everything I tell her she can’t do. Some things I realise that the answer is, “nothing” and so I revise the rule. Sometimes the answer is, “it would be hell for a week and then she’d settle down.” But sometimes the answer is, “it would hurt her or make her ill and she is not old enough to deal with that consequence.”

Let me put it this way, at ten years old I can tell her that she will probably break her leg if she jumps off a hay bale. If she does it and breaks her leg then she can live with the consequences, she is responsible for putting herself in hospital. That might be too far for some parents but actually I think for me at ten being forbidden would have guaranteed that I not even think it through before jumping. Maybe at eight I would still give the warning, and consider going up there to get her down. Perhaps I would give a *stronger* warning. But at three years old, if I don’t stop her, I am responsible. If I tell her that she will break her leg it is meaningless! She isn’t able to see the consequence right now and she isn’t even able to remember one day to the next what the consequence was LAST time without good reminders and plenty of repetition. She is still very young no matter how smart she is.

Same with sugar, only slightly less serious. If I tell her that it will make her head fuzzy and she will feel very sad and not be able to understand what I say to her, she will go ahead and eat the sweets! It is meaningless, she doesn’t know yet that it is a hard and fast rule and she can’t remember how she felt yesterday. It is further worsened by the fact that even as an adult I find it hard to logically link what I eat with how I feel, because once you feel better you just forget feeling rubbish.

All in defence of, yes, I restrict her access to things that hurt her. Including chocolate and sweets and fizzy drinks and cake and ESPECIALLY coloured icing. ;)

12 July 2007

Really positive days, loving the sunshine

Goodness I’m tired. Yesterday was a LONG day in town, we met friends for a drink and did general jobs, and my feet hurt. I bet Jenna’s do too. Her legs were aching too, but that’s growing pains I think as it sometimes wakes her at night. To start with it was tempting to ignore it or tell her that it didn’t hurt her but I soon realised the stupidity of that and take her seriously when she says she’s in pain these days. She likes me to stop walking, sit her up on a handy wall, and massage her legs for her. That seems to keep the pains at bay.

Anyway, off topic. In town Jenna “read” the signs to me on the market hall. Some of them she knew, the word “Eagle” for some reason she recognises. She told me that the new no smoking sign said, “Do Not Be Sad” because her friend Anita who has a market stall tells her to smile. She’s so sweet. I wish I had a tenner for every time I call her sweet – she really is though!

Our swing came, and the baby sign book since I want to improve Morgan’s repertoire of one sign (“drink”). Within an hour (perhaps three repetitions of the sign for “milk”) Morgan started to use it in context. Jenna was curious in spite of strenuously resisting me teaching her any signs before. In ten minutes she had all forty signs from the book committed to memory, and she has been randomly showing people all day. Child-led learning – one, teacher-instigated activities – nil.

11 July 2007

Toddlers are fab!

I just remembered a funny from yesterday on our walk home from town. A man walked in front of us at the top of our road carrying a heavy bag from the back of a van to the rear door of the Chinese Takeaway. It was bean sprouts, the biggest bag of bean sprouts I have ever seen in fact, all yellowish and pale in their clear bag. Jenna looked from the van to the man and then to me, and said, “Why are those people getting straw in there? Have they got Chickens as well?”

Oh and in other news, we did some really major housework last night and downstairs is looking miles better than it has since, well since Morgan was born!

10 July 2007

Bullying in Jenna's social group

This morning Morgan found a bag of crisps that Martin had left lying around. She didn’t eat them but she did make a terrible mess. Jenna got the hoover out, unwound the cable, plugged it in, and released the handle to angle it. Then she realised that she couldn’t reach the on switch with the head angled, and shouted for help. All of this before I realised that any mess had been made!

The new dryer finally arrived at 9am so I was able to get them out to soft play, which is a real plus. We’ve done so well living without the dryer that I pretty much hope not to use the thing but we need the standby to prevent me having to buy emergency nappies. :) Morgan loves the soft play stuff; she is so brave and so energetic. And today, Jenna ordered her own dinner at the counter and paid for it.

One thing marred my day, and I’m still brought to tears by it this evening… We had our first incidence off bullying, of the in crowd and the rejection, of girly bitchiness. My heart is breaking for my little girl that any of this should be a part of her world; it’s just not fair. I suppose that if I want her to mix with other children then that sort of thing will go on whatever I do and however I supervise who she spends time with, but it’s another thing that can’t help but make me a little glad that she won’t have that on a grand scale if I don’t school her.

Three or four little girls about Jenna’s age were playing under a baby blanket, and Jenna went to join her friend Tamsin from next door. She was evicted from under the blanket and told to get lost. She looked grey-faced, hurt and angry, and tried to whip the blanket off their heads. They took it back, screeching at her, and shoved her away saying that she was not invited and was not allowed to play with them because “we don’t like you, you’re not our friend, we’re playing together because we’re best friends”. :(

So Jenna wandered off to “read” to the babies. I was a little relieved not to have to intervene as none of the other parents had noticed and I really didn’t want to go over the top – I was honestly in danger of crying hysterically and taking her home (lol). She didn’t seem too shaken though, and calmly told stories to the smaller children, lighting up in that way she does when she talks to them. I was so proud! Every few minutes one of the in crowd under the blanket would call her name, and she would look up, only to be told, “We don’t want you. Go away!”

It hurt me a whole lot more than it hurt her. Twenty minutes later Jenna and Tamsin were building houses with the soft bricks together without a harsh word between them, so clearly it wasn’t that big a deal. Oh but it hurt, that sting of knowledge that she will have to handle cruelty and childishness and hatred and rejection her whole life and I WILL NOT BE ABLE TO PROTECT HER any more than I could today in such a trivial way.

You can be sure I put a major stop to it later on when Jenna told another little girl that she couldn’t play in the newly erected brick house with the two of them “because Tamsin is my best friend.”

9 July 2007

Counting instead of yelling

Story time today – accompanied by EJ and family (minus Dougie who I think was taking the opportunity to stay in bed). Every time I think “never again” and then sure enough I’m walking down the street with two toddlers running riot, EJ probably feels the same. Jenna is usually so calm on her own (barring perhaps the last few weeks when I’ve struggled on and off).

So I’m counting to get Jenna back within grabbing distance, every few minutes, “In the count of three you need to get back here, one, two, THREE! Thankyou. Right, if I have to keep counting for you then you will have to hold my hand…” Three chances and she’s out, screaming and hollering and dangling on the end of my arm. It’s either play this game with her or lose her, and although I wish there was a better (less nagging) way I know this way is keeping me sane! Actually today I’ve not felt the need to count very often and Jenna has stayed close and listened to me. There has been no enforced hand holding at all. Which makes it a good discipline day.

At the library Morgan was climbing all over Aiden, poor lamb just sitting there letting her get on with it with a confused expression on his face. I feel kinda sorry for him, Morgan is quite strong and won’t stay away from him but he can’t escape her attentions yet. I removed her every time he was looking flustered or any time she went for his face. She does it to any baby she sees, absolutely loves the company, but I don’t want to be the mum whose child is bullying with mum looking on in adoration saying how clever it is. :S

I’ve been a bit mardy with Martin the last day or so… I think I’m just insecure about how much I’ve changed. I’m this person, who is often pretty demanding to live with and has all these schemes and ideas, and I’m not a whole lot like the person he fell in love with and married. And so I expect that when he’s finding me trying (read – too enthusiastic) he must be wanting to stray. There’s more to it than that but not that I care to share lol. I’m sure that my life should be going in a certain direction. And if the person you are travelling with wants something different, what do you do?

8 July 2007

Friendships in the house, and nursing is back to normal (eek)

Another resolution to say no a little less, relax more about things that don’t matter, be outdoors as much as possible, cook healthy food for her, and generally do a little better in taking care of Jenna as well as the milk-monster. I never thought that actually having Morgan nursing properly would be such a burden on us. It shouldn’t be.

We have done a lot in the garden today, and the new swing is built – typically it arrived and then the rain prevented us from fixing it up for nearly a week. It looks great out there, and it has been a lot of fun to do again. I’m just so much more easy going when we’re out there. I couldn’t live in a house without an outdoor space again, it makes me a better person lol.

I’m still friends with Jenna, without compromising on feeding Morgan constantly. I’ve just not let myself slip back into nagging again, and I hope it’s as easy to keep up for the rest of the week. Something that has been suggested to us is that she might have blood sugar issues and need to snack more often, and that the behaviour is a result of her being hyper after meals and then whiney when she needs something else. It’s possible I suppose, certainly something that there would be no harm in us testing out.

This evening we had a really lovely moment while I was on here doing this and updating some other stuff. Morgan was playing on the floor when Jenna crawled past her at speed. Morgan dropped her brick and gave chase – and they spent about fifteen minutes just crawling up and down the living room together with Morgan trying to grab Jenna and both of them laughing like little hyenas. It’s nice to see the friendship that they could have one day, that they already have now even though they are so young.

7 July 2007

Some little connections and growing up

Jenna has been away for three nights and four days. When my in-laws asked I thought at first that I should talk them out of it, but Jenna usually goes for one night and, well, I kind of assumed she would just ask to come back anyway. But she didn’t and I didn’t – knowing that if she got upset they would bring her back to me right away – and she was fine.

I was pretty pleased to have to much space right now actually. I feel like we have one good day, three bad ones, one terrible one, one good day again… I miss being friends with her. Perhaps it’s just the normal gradual disconnection of a nearly-three year old. Maybe it’s my lack of sleep that makes me think it’s worse than it is.

She is home now, and I think she did miss us because she doesn’t want to leave the house again. She very sweetly suggested that I make pasta when I asked if she’d like to go and get lunch “out” somewhere. And really, she has been angelic all afternoon. We went into town in the end for a short while, to pick up some vegetables from the wholefoods shop and to get a new pan as my smallest one got badly burnt last week. We didn’t get a pan in the end.

Another funny little thing, maybe that I hadn’t noticed her doing before or maybe something she has started this week, she is dancing around a lot. I’ve taken the opportunity to dance around with her, it’s something I’ve been doing while she is gone anyway for the amusement of Morgan.

3 July 2007

Wet wet wet wet wet!

We would be outdoors for most of the day right now, except that the terrible storms haven't passed yet and the garden is soaking. It isn't that we are staying in, after all as I have had said to me as long as I can remember - "There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing." Jenna has her rain coat on and wellies and non-demin trousers and her brolly and off we go! Just not to play in the garden so much!

The problem is the toys are wet, the swing is wet, the grass is slippery, and all of the lovely nature we would like to be looking at is so drenched it is either hiding out or too damp to play in (the long grass and wild flowers at the back of the garden are a case in point - even top to toe waterproofs would get water inside them from that lot). Wellingtons, as I'm sure many parents have thought often, are less helpful for jumping in puddles than, say, waders. Jenna could certainly do with a pair.

I'm looking forward to some sunshine, as although my plants are enjoying the drinks I would like to get to do some den building and the like. We also have a new swing coming to replace the one with the broken seat, and it's a double frame too so that both girls can swing at the same time. I?m buying some lovely wooden seats from www.spiritofnature.co.uk and www.thebabycatalogue.co.uk too, a nice wide perch for Jenna and a fabric baby seat with wooden bars for Morgan, respectively.

We have a small trampoline, a gift from grandparents, and some of the usual things like footballs and hula hoops ("I need my hoopa-hoop mummy!") and of course Jenna's trusty wooden trike. The best garden toy though, is a large pink double bed sheet that I split down the seams. This gets pegged with the middle seam over the washing line and weighted at both ends to make a huge play tent. Eventually I hope to make the truly best den of all, a living willow structure at the end of the garden behind all the plants, a truly perfect natural play space.

2 July 2007

Two lively children - REALLY lively

Today was library day for story time again. Only I’d forgotten that the library was closed this week, and we arrived to find the doors locked – Jenna was hysterical for ages. I felt awful walking through town and not being able to stop and comfort her properly with Morgan on my front and the rain (oh the rain). We stopped for lunch early and had a big hug, and she soon calmed down for a sandwich (with olives on it lol).

I’m still shattered, mostly down to Morgan waking up PERKY in the early hours. I think we’re missing her best bedtime hour because we like to be up late, so she gets up too early for me. I should “give in” and get an early night but I love being down here with Martin watching CSI and chilling out together – even just listening to music together. :(

And Jenna is still acting like a crazy thing. I can’t figure out what’s causing it, but I know I’m not doing anything differently. I thought I’d got back my balance, was dealing with her properly and respectfully, but she’s still just mad. Maybe she is getting over-tired with our busy days? Some days she wakes up like it though. Ugh. I have days on end when I feel like I can’t connect with her.

She told me this evening, in a rare cuddle, “eyebrows are really really for stroking – you’ve got nice hair here but I have got LITTLE eyebrows.” She’s a nutter.

1 July 2007

Undersea life, or at least under-rain life

We have had a telly day today, since the rain isn’t abating. We watched about three episodes of the Blue Planet back to back with Jenna agog through a fair bit of it. She recognises a lot of the sea creatures, which is another thing I’ve not made any effort to tell her, she just knows. This child-led learning lark is easy lol! She reads a lot and asks me things but often I don’t even think I’ve told her things, they’ve just been absorbed by osmosis or something.

She told me during one program (wandering over from her Doll’s Picnic in her toy corner), “That’s a shark – they’re really really Got Teeth [grrr]!” I love pre-schoolers.