30 September 2007

Hiccup or halt?

Befriending isn’t going so well, my client isn’t answering the door to me (can’t help but take THAT personally) and although Morgan is still fine with being left I’m finding babysitters hard to come by since my mum has broken her toe and I don’t want the baby to cause it further pain.

In other news I am making industrial quantities of soup of all kinds. Yum. Home-grown slow roasted tomatoes anyone?

20 September 2007

Getting used to being home and not so bad as all that

We’re getting acclimatised to home again. I will admit, it was good to walk in that front door and feel that this is MY place, my very own and totally comfortable to us. It’s great to see the garden again, and the chickens especially (lovely fat clucking things). My tomatoes are huge and I have lots of baby courgettes coming too. And potatoes to harvest. Fab. :)

The befriending went wonderfully again, and confidence is temporarily restored. I feel silly all over again for my panic and yet I guess it shows that it’s me and not her who isn’t ready to be past babyhood. She is a very contented little thing. Although she has really stopped sleeping and is feeding hourly at night. It could be worse, she could be sleeping in another room and I could be having to get up to her!

Today I had a real clash of cultures at the gym. I tried to put Jenna in the play area for half an hour! What they want is for me to leave her in the baby area and perhaps, if numbers are right, she will go on the play gym. I explained that I’m not using it as childcare, and if the ratios aren’t right I won’t put her in, I am right there in the café and I do not need a crèche.

They have never been asked before to give information upfront on where the child will be, and clearly think that there is no difference between the crèche and the full-size soft play (trust me, from a 3yo perspective, there is!). When I ask for her to be brought back to me if she can’t go on the soft play they look at me as if I were leaving instructions for her to be flogged on the hour every hour.

I despair, they say that she CAN use the big play area, and off she goes. She tells me, don’t worry mummy, if they put me in with the babies I’ll scream and scream for you.

15 September 2007

Don’t talk to me about pathetic fallacy.

It’s tipping it down. Proper, heavy, grey water from the black skies in bucketloads. I do not want to go home. I do not want to be in the city, to see brick again, to be deprived of fresh air, to see a hundered cars and identical terraced houses before I’m five minutes from my front door. I do not want to miss my family again; I have enjoyed having my mother-in-law next door and I don’t want Martin to go back to work.

I especially don’t want to be desperately seeking a babysitter for Morgan, who I am not ready to leave, to do a job I suddenly feel horrendously unequipped and emotionally unavailable for. What am I doing? I can’t help anyone, specifically, one to one and professionally. I’m scared. What if my baby cries for the whole time I’m off attempting a job I don’t think I can do?

I have four days to find someone to take her for an hour. If I can’t, I will have to horribly and humiliatingly admit defeat and let this poor client down whilst proving everyone right about taking me on with a small baby. If I can then I will have to horribly and humiliatingly crash and burn in the care sector with nobody to blame. What am I doing?

14 September 2007

How can it be nearly time to go?

We have been packing today and I don’t want to. Really don’t want to. We spent some time walking today, and playing on a tiny playground in the village of Gatehouse. It has been drizzling again, tiny light drops of rain but much harder than our one shower last week. I can’t believe how much sun we have had this week!

Oh, and after my Morgan-breakfast-worry, I have expressed over an ounce every two days which has been plenty for her cereals. I think from now on though my pump may be going away as she’s getting happier with the sharpness of unadulterated fruit juices in her baby porridge. Not to mention the quantity of toast she happily consumes…

13 September 2007

Some random paragraphs I wrote this last week about the places we have been.

A soft mist of rain is falling, the first all week. It is so light it seems suspended, tiny nebulous silver droplets that collect on my coat and sling as I walk. It is warm, and the pregnant purple clouds rest on a distant slate peak as we turn onto a winding side-road to head away from the village.

The bracken is colouring a deep, rich bronze for the harvest season and the road is lined with the emerald through amber and brightest orange. The whole world is spread before us like a crumpled duvet. The hills rise behind, not the green and brown we would be tempted to paint them, but yellow and purple and grey. Every blade of grass is perfect.

* * * * *
The sea today is freckled with tiny white peaks. It is usually such a great grey expanse when we drive out this way, glinting like a mirror reflecting clouds and the vain hopping birds in solitary pursuit on buried treasure. The edges of this stretch are green – almost excessively so. I have seen the grazing semi-wild goats bound right onto the sand as if daring the tidal waters.

The tiny bays we can get into to walk and play, the sand is fine as gold dust but crunchy on top with mussel shells. All are havens for that childhood clamour to fish the rock pools and climb and clamber. We have become obsessives too, scouring stretches for glassy aquariums in which we might catch a tiny brown crab or an alien-looking shrimp. Jenna is under their spell.

I can see her now, memories of those long lazy days at the shore. She is so tall and long, lithe bare limbs all sunshine and strength. Yesterday her legs were skinned by a fall onto some jagged rocks and after a moment of tearful anger at the roughness of stone she was off and running while I hovered still between her babyhood and independence. Oh I wanted to hold her but she would not could not stay. And the tide retreats again, always changing.

8 September 2007

Why I want to stay here forever

I am NOT ready to go home. I have severe location jealousy and am looking enviously at for sale signs wherever we go. I mean, there is a toy shop here (Jenny Wren in Castle Douglas) that sells fabulous imaginative wooden toys, and wholefood shops, local butchers and bakers, a dairy and creamery. Even local organic ice-cream, literally on our doorstep.

It’s Green Living paradise (apart from possibly it being easier if you own a car) and we have been walking every evening in the green peace of the countryside, eating blackberries from the hedgerow and listening to the birds. We are living in harmony with the rhythms of day and night and the seasons.

We have had deer walking across the back garden, and the girls are playing and laughing like sunshine and rain and everything most perfect. They share a bath every couple of days and are loving each other’s company. Morgan smells like popcorn and lemon cake today and I am snuggling for all I am worth. I can’t say what a parental high I’m on, there just aren’t words.

5 September 2007

What we keep secret from small children - and travel with cloth bottoms

Another quick thought Jenna learning and about history complete with blood and bones. I am having fun this week explaining some things (for example the violence in our history) to her in child-friendly terms. I’m also finding really that I care more about it than she does so far.

Maybe children are just attracted to the gory bits, but she loves the mummies at the Natural History Museum in Derby, and she loves the bones and things on the Withorn dig here in Galloway. I’m definitely stopping myself from editing her fairy tales to make them more child friendly from now on.

Also I'm sure that the contradictions don't pose as much trouble for her as used as she is to a world where so little makes sense. I don't think by any means that she just ignores the idea of violence and pain, and she certainly empathises, but she doesn't take it on herself and feel any associated guilt about it. Yet. It's really interesting to see.

We bought a selection of our cloth nappies away with us, along with cloth wipes and spray (ie our normal change bag) and a bucket for in the laundry room. We're self-catering so obviously we're doing the washing ourselves. We have enough clothes to probably only need to do one or two clothes washes (if we get dirty) but we will have to wash nappies every second day. So far it hasn't been an issue at all.

It's great that we're somewhere that we don't have to pay extra for the washing facility or for the electricity use, but having now done cloth nappies while away I don't see what we were so worried about when we went away with Jenna at this age! It hasn't been an issue at all, and it has felt good not to have to buy that one extra thing to go away with. :)

4 September 2007

A quick irritated rant about learning

Just a quick note to express annoyance at the BBC magazine we picked up for Jenna (yeah, I should have known better I guess). There was a multiple choice question on the parent questionnaire was about whether you “create learning opportunities for your child”.

The answers were essentially “not bothered”, “I think that they do enough at school and home is for play”, or “I try to create learning opportunities every day”!

What about, “I feel that the whole world is my child’s school so I have to create learning opportunites for her in the same way I have to make sure there is enough oxygen for her to breathe”?

3 September 2007

Some technical aspects of travelling

I have a confession about baby-led-weaning. I am very embarrassed of doing it in public. On the way up we had food in a rest stop and Morgan had some apple and grapes and carrot pieces. When we left I had to crawl around under the table to pick up bits and it still looked bad when I’d finished – I felt so guilty! I know people get paid to clear up after us but that isn’t the point. I hate putting people out, and at least when I was giving Jenna purees it wasn’t a hassle to anyone else…

I have brought the breastpump away with me, feeling bad about possibly giving her anything less than my milk on her breakfasts, so I hope I can manage to get enough over these two weeks. I haven’t let go of the stresses JUST yet.

One thing I’m definitely confirming yet again is how convenient it is to pop Morgan in and out of the slings! At rest stops we could get up and down stairs, no waiting for lifts (no finding lifts) and I didn’t have to find somewhere to park it when we stopped to eat. We’ve been out and about all kinds of places today – the beach, the forest, I can’t imagine having tried to do it with a buggy. I love babywearing, and I’m glad to have had the chance to fall in love with it again.

Today mostly we’ve been on the beach, rockpooling and finding life magical and wonderful. I am so glad to be here. So, so glad.

1 September 2007

Finally! We arrived!

We’re here and tired out, but the place is perfect – wonderful. It’s so big and clean and light and pleasant. The views are heavenly, and it feels like home. We are very very happy. I have to report too that Morgan was fine in the car, and the journey was a dream.

I can't even describe the place and hope to do it justice. There are two cottages joined together, a smaller one with one bedroom (and a pull out bed in the sitting room) where the in-laws are, and a bigger one with two large bedrooms (one with bunk-beds and a single bed, and one double room). Everything is wood and stone and open, simple but comforting. The kitchen is properly stocked and big enough for me to spend hours in here! Jenna soon found a little row of pretty coloured snail-shells along the garden wall, and these touches are everywhere - in short it feels really lived-in and not like a holiday home at all.

The cottage is whitewashed on the outside and there is a green garden sloping up at the back towards some woods. We look out at the front towards the cottage where some friends of the owners live, they're our caretakers so to speak and we had to go to them for the keys. There is one of those huge old heavy wooden farm gates that, if you're small, you can stand on as it swings closed. We can see fields and fields, autumnal leaves, glorious colourful wildflowers, heather and bracken and sky - more sky than you can ever see in the city. Heaven must look just a little like this I think.