31 October 2007

My Baby Caterpillar

Last night Morgan fell asleep on me as usual and as I stroked her back and head I realised that I could feel every tiny bone of her little baby spine. It all flooded in – how fragile she is and how temporary, how even tomorrow she will be fractionally less mine. It almost crippled me for a moment, a brief second of mind numbing terror, a crushing weight of responsibility. It would be impossible to parent at all if that thought always loomed so large.

This afternoon Jenna climbed into my lap for a cuddle and fell asleep. How long has it been since she last did that? Months, at least. She outruns me; as soon as I catch up with who she is, her needs and thoughts and dreams, she is already further on, further off. When I was very barely pregnant with her and had just started feeling her move I wrote a simple little poem. I think of it often at the moment.

My Baby Caterpillar

I am a chrysalis
I will be cast off
I am just a mother
You will be a butterfly

28 October 2007

Money worries and shopping lists

SO today is the day we should have been paid. Only it’s Sunday so they didn’t and we’re going to be paid late. Which inevitably means I’m thinking more about bills than anything else. My budget is sound though, and we should be able to do another couple of things off our important-things-to-spend-money-on-if-we-have-it list. It isn’t a long list but it will take a while still!

We could do with some bokashi compost bins so we can deal with cooked food waste. We want a swing seat for the garden (but that’s at the bottom of the list currently). I need a sewing machine – currently operating on a serger only which is fab but not really adequate for making clothes and I’m sick of having so many nearly-finished projects. The things that actually WILL be done this month are – warm outer stuff for Jenna when I spot some in second hand shops… Bike, also for Jenna (a running bike as she is so ready to be off baby trikes now). Maybe a couple of new books. Certainly not a new sling *sigh* as I do have slings lol. I’d ask for more wraps for Christmas but I don’t think anyone will take that seriously. ;)

I am broody. But I really can’t think like that. Morgan is teeny and feeding a lot, and that’s that. Come on, Sarah, you’re not ready for another one yet. I’m expecting another long cycle though as I haven’t ovulated yet. This is way too much information for some people who read this but *shrugs* I know there are chart stalkers out there too…

We borrowed mums car today so we got to Church – and have had a relaxed afternoon with Emma and Chris too. Martin has to get up early to take it back to her but it has been so handy to have it again. He has almost stopped talking about getting a new car of our own though; I think there is just too much else going on right now. It’s a good job because our intentions of saving have been waylaid by other things we needed! One day. Maybe.

27 October 2007

Exercise, the benefits of

We all went swimming earlier – it was a free day at the gym so Jenna did a class while I went and did yoga with mum and then we all had a swim. The class was amazing, I feel so relaxed (lol, normally do yoga with two little monkeys helping) and I was quite shocked at how aware I am of what I’m doing, I’ve never used a mirror so I was expecting to be quite wonky and to have dramatically misinterpreted some of the poses from the books I’ve used. So I’m feeling a little bit smug.

And I’m further reassured that the furore about yoga and the church is another case of “everything is permissible for me but not everything is beneficial”. I’m sure some people will feel that for them to do yoga they would be worshiping another god or participating in another faith. But honestly I’m not thinking about anything other than stretching my body and trying to achieve better posture and greater mindfulness of my movement and breathing when I’m doing it! And that’s enough to engage my brain to full capacity most of the time… I don’t think doing a bridge will free my mind to solutions in a crisis but hey, each to their own.

I’ve meant to mention all that for a while, mostly because I get funny looks from a minority of people when I say that I do yoga with the children because they know I’m a Christian. But I see yoga and my faith to be as compatible as, for example, dance and my faith (there have been various points in history when that would have been seen as risky and borderline-evil for me to say too). And I still bellydance. God made me. My body glorifies Him.

Change of topic – my house is a tip already. I have been doing really well at keeping it looking like a place I’d actually want to live (shockingly) but today I came home to find those efforts trampled by a visiting toddler. Ah well, I got some help to put it mostly to rights. Maybe next weekend I’ll be able to get it back to how it has been most of the month, but I’d guess that the washing is going to take me a long while to catch up with first.

Does anyone else using cloth nappies find that they have weeks when they only really remember to put the nappies through and then there is a backlog of clothes and towels and stuff? It’s like my brain goes, “oh it’s OK, I washed the nappies” and then I realise there’s a pile of stuff still waiting to go in… On the whole though, I’m feeling full of bounce and vitality. :)

25 October 2007

Excuses for not writing much

You know I really feel so much better about Jenna and how I deal with her when she has been away for an hour or two. It’s a good job she’s so needing that time too or I don’t know how we’d cope with each other. Another befriending session this morning and both girls were angelic for my in-laws. In fact they have both been lovely for me too – and I got a good nights sleep last night! All is well with the world.

I am finding that the urge to write is at a pretty low ebb right now. Not because I’m too busy to sit and talk out what I’ve been up to and what stages we’re dealing with, but more because when we’re really busy there’s less to tell. I feel a bit like the diary turns into days of “we did XYZ and it was all really lovely” followed by a couple of days of “I can’t cope, aaargh” and back to “doing XYZ again and I love my life!”

I honestly do think like this. And it really is a roller coaster. Maybe everyone else with little people is the same? Answers on a postcard…

21 October 2007

Things you wish you hadn't said

My little big girl was all sick and feverish yesterday. :( She seems over it now but it’s still always hard to see her poorly. We are getting everything that’s going around as usual. I’ve been pretty impatient today and hurrying Jenna along – very mean given that she’s not been herself. I would try to excuse it with saying that I’m ill too but I really have to be the grownup here.

I threatened to smack her last week. It was a stupid thing to say and I’m so glad she didn’t call my bluff. But once the word is out there… I wish I could take it back as it has really had an impact on her and she has told plenty of people that I actually smacked her. I suppose in her mind I might as well have. It’s all very sad and I’m hurriedly re-reading some of my helpful books to try to replace the threats with a more useful way of communicating my frustration with her.

We had had such a good week too! And all of the holding back from shouting and co-operative discipline and I go and suggest that I’ll smack her if she pulls Morgan off the table one more time.

19 October 2007

More sleep updates and first thoughts on Westfield

Morgan has really not been sleeping. Last night she was awake almost hourly and she can’t be cold in the middle of my bed with PJs and blankets! It crossed my mind that it might be me moving that disturbs her but perhaps it’s the usual (that she isn’t eating a huge amount of solids or drinking much during the day). She likes to reconnect at night. I’ve just enjoyed the week of unbroken nights WAY too much.

We’ve been to look at the new shopping centre (I hated it the first time and I’m not really warming to it any) – it’s so big and impersonal and noisy. There is one thing that Jenna likes though. There is a little play area, really nice imaginative soft play. It’s open sided and that’s the one thing that puts me off a lot. It’s such nice equipment but the enclosure is so low I’m petrified the whole time we’re in there that someone could just put an arm over the side and pluck a child out. It torments me.

Oh for a world that was safe and secure, where my little girl could play without my first thought being accessibility to predators. *sigh* Anyhow, I’m sure I’ll be ranting more in future about the shopping centre so I’ll leave it at those unhappy thoughts. Perhaps I’ll warm to it when it’s quieter and easier for me to supervise Jenna in there!

One nice thing that has happened this week is that we’ve had two lots of photos of the girls, taken very cheaply and paid for by someone else. It’s nice to have a special record of them, of us and our growing family. One luxury we could live without but it’s still nice to have the financial means to do. I don’t think I would choose to live without a camera either. Trust me to have thought about it and weighed up both sides. ;)

18 October 2007

Missing the children!

Morgan has been gone for nearly 6 hours. I am bereft, lonely, torn. And also very proud. I thought she would maybe manage two hours but she’s only just coming home now at 3pm and she left before ten this morning! The house is so quiet. I can tell you with her wanting someone other than me I appreciate how much contact we have the rest of the time (often not at my choosing). I feel sometimes now like she’s always in my space and I want for her to not need me so much, and here I have my wish and I’m complaining.

I keep being told to enjoy it but it’s just like being on a different planet. It’s like being half-naked too without the sling. I might go and put on an empty wrap just to feel dressed. ;) It has one benefit so far really, this baby-free day. I have made so much jewellery I should have some nice Christmas money coming from the stall soon. :)

16 October 2007

Absentee

I’m really not keeping up with the boards at the moment. I don’t feel uncomfortably stretched but I do feel busy. At least at the moment I’m not torturing myself about whether being “busy” means the children are suffering. If this is what the continuum concept means by living a full and active life in the community then maybe it’s all good for them!

This week I’ve been totally on top of the world with Jenna. I’ve got my little girl back and we’re not yelling at each other (often). She is very precocious sometimes and is good at debate so sometimes I really am just realising that there needs to be more give and take in the relationship and I have to stop giving orders unless it’s an emergency. How important ARE the things I nag about?

We’re getting the balance right, and she’s respecting me more for it. In fact, when I do tell her to do something or explain how something works she often listens better because she doesn’t think I’m fussing or being mean. It’s a real relief. Though don’t ask me on one of her deaf days because I won’t paint such a pleasant picture, those days drive me *crazy*.

Soft play today and Sophia hurt her arm. Jenna has been worried about her since we got home and keeps asking if we can ring her to ask if she’s OK. I think she wanted them to come back to play so it was a really big blow. I bet she asks to pray for her later (cutie).

12 October 2007

Hormone central still

Things are a little better – with both of them – but I’m still quite fragile. I keep bursting into tears and I’m trying very hard not to let Jenna see because I don’t want it to turn into emotional blackmail. When she says no I just feel boiling mad and then… Heartbroken. Like her refusing to do what I want means that I’m a failure and she’s a horrible child and everything is awful!

It’s pathetic. I need hugs. I really hope this passes soon because Jenna is actually trying really hard to listen and she is being so sweet and kind. That makes it kind of worse because then when she does dig her heels in rather than working out how to deal with it I just feel like we’re always fighting rather than seeing it as a teeny tiny blip.

10 October 2007

On making threats to stop being AP

Some people woke up lively this morning. I was NOT one of those people. We have been clashing quite a bit today. Yes, my aim is to help her grow self-controls and to impose limits that protect her physically and emotionally. But sometimes I really would just go for squashing her and making her less inconvenient!

Again it feels a lot like I’m blaming Jenna because Morgan is being wakeful and I know I can’t be angry with her… Not to mention that Morgan is being very persistent when she finds something I don’t want her to do – which is what she’s designed to do admittedly. It’s just that when Jenna does it to and I have to keep removing her and making things happen when she refuses to do what I ask!!! I feel like I have two pre-toddlers getting into stuff and I resent having to treat Jenna like a baby when I know she CAN do what I need her to.

I’m periodically threatening Morgan with cots and buggies and formula. I’m periodically threatening Jenna with time out. I have to get a grip.

8 October 2007

Planning for baby number three?

So *sigh of relief* my period is back. Albeit a month overdue, and very heavy. I was feeling worried about pregnancy all week, and guilty that I was worrying (in case I was pregnant and the baby construed it as not being wanted). I actually do really want another baby, and I really feel like it would be an OK time for me to be pregnant, and I really have been broody. But Morgan would miss out, I’m sure of it, because I’m already feeling stretched.

Some people are so ready for a small gap, but this time I couldn’t handle it. Between Morgan and Jenna it would have been fine, but it has been a big adjustment. Not going from one to two, but going from two (one in arms) to two mobile ones! Let’s not add a baby into the mix again yet. Not til I find my feet with two toddlers.

It does raise the question as to when we will start trying to conceive though. I have been thinking and I don’t feel a lot of urgency (obviously) but I don’t want a gap bigger than three or four years. I suppose my ideal gap between Morgan and the next would be three years. As long as Morgan isn’t as difficult a three as Jenna was to start with and can still sometimes be…

It’s impossible. There is no way to tell what would be best – for me, for him, for the children, for the new baby… Not for any of us. I think maybe anything goes after the next few months and if we make it to spring without another due date on the horizon then we’ll just quit worrying about contraception altogether and see what happens.

7 October 2007

Feeling good about my body but also eating junk lol

Harvest has been a lot of fun this year – mostly because we actually DID harvest something. The garden has been such a huge adventure, and I’m really proud of it. We’ve been to Church and had the “bring and share” meal today. In the end we made corn bread with pumpkin, lemon curd tart, apple pie, and popcorn. Then we were given a lift home by mum, who has taken Jenna off swimming and left us at home with a plate of leftover cake, which I am not planning on sharing with anyone.

I don’t know why but I really have the sugar cravings at the moment, which is not the way to ensure I have a balanced diet for Morgan and me. I guess Morgan is still almost exclusively breastfed – she certainly gets more calories from me than anywhere else, but she really does love to play with food (and mostly throw it on the floor afterwards). Plus the cold weather… I guess it doesn’t matter that much, and I don’t often get twinges of guilt about eating badly (either because I’m eating well or because I can look at my reflection without wincing).

Call it healthy self-confidence but although I’m thoroughly a 14-16 and not at all the size ten I was once, I look at myself in the mirror most days and think “yay, I have curves!”. And I only fret a little bit (when I have eaten sugary things usually) that I have a saggy stomach still. It took me til Jenna was two and I was six months pregnant to be a size 10-12 again last time – and without any effort on my part - so I’m taking it easy again.

Morgan has found a new game this week, the telephone. She talks to people and really seems to pay attention to what this strange contraption tells her. She also picks it up when nobody is there and says, “hiyeah, yeah, yeah, hiyeah” into it. I’m fairly sure that she’s mimicking “hiyah” and “yeah” but can’t work out which is appropriate. She certainly copies a lot of noises at the moment.

6 October 2007

A day-in-the-life of unschooling a three-year-old human whirlwind.

Today has been one of those days when Jenna just seems to be inspired. From where, I have no idea, but she is just full of ideas. In fact I’m quite glad she’s asleep now because we’re worn out from all the things she has thought of for us to do. ;) So here it is;

8am – She spreads the jam on our toast and pours the cereal and milk.

8.10am – She decides that we should do some cutting and sticking. She has mastered tracing her hand and is making a tree from handprints. I help her write a thankfulness prayer on each.

8.30am – We have been looking at a chart and talking about leaf shapes. She is trying to guess what kind of trees are in our garden so we take the chart outside. She wants to make a thankyou card for friends so we come back in again to do that.

9am – The paper colours remind her of fire so she wants to make a cardboard fire. We experiment and build something that pleases her a lot. Then we draw fires with chalk and crayon and pencil. She decides which medium she prefers – chalk.

9.30 am – She is busy with the rest of the gold card and I ask her what she’s doing – making a harvest crown with paper leaves stuck on it. She asks if I can find some jewels, which I can’t but promise to try to buy some another time.

10am – We have a long and involved talk about farming methods as we are looking for more chickens and she doesn’t know what “battery” means in any other context than what we put in the camera to make it work.

10.30am – We are harvesting tomatoes and courgettes in the garden and she decides to collect some leaves for pictures. We slow roast the vegetables for pasta sauce and talk about what to cook for harvest bring and share.

11am – She is dressed up as a butterfly and draws insects. She brings the bug net and wants me to catch her in it.

1pm – After lunch we make our sauce in the blender. She watches CITV and makes brick towers “like Pocoyo”.

1.20pm – We make jewellery and she strings all her wooden beads (a birthday present) and then wears her new necklace with the butterfly costume.

1.30pm – She asks for more beads so we talk about making some. I promise to buy pasta tubes next time we shop so that she can string some of them to make more jewellery. We also try to drill the avocado stone from lunch but it splits.

1.50pm – Jenna makes playdoh ice-cream and playdoh cookies while Morgan has a massage. After a while she comes and wants to massage Lily too so she copies me.

2pm – We have to have a pretend birthday party and “eat” the playdoh food.

2.30pm – She helps me pour her a drink and then helps me tidy up before she has a nap.

2.40pm – She is chased up to bed and stomps about on the landing for a few minutes before I call up to her and tell her that if she just lies down for a rest she can come down soon.

4.20pm – Jenna bounces downstairs saying she had a nice sleep and feeds her doll some “soup”.

4.30pm – She seems to be telling Lily about the leaves in her poster. She asks if she can paint a fire to keep herself warm.

5pm – In the bath after painting she invents a new tree called a Spaghetti tree with red leaves. She teaches Morgan how to blow into the bath flutes.

5.20pm – Jenna plays at flying in her towel. I show her a parachute made from a nappy and she plays with it for a while.

5.35pm – She is back in Butterfly mode and is flying/dancing.

5.45pm – She measures the pasta for tea. Daddy gets home!

4 October 2007

Hmm another not sure post

Morgan tried out her pushchair for the first time today. I really thought she’d hate it but she was angelic and had just been happy and smiley the whole time. My father in law would be not too steady on his feet with a sling so it was the only way really for him to have her fairly close to me while I was off with the befriending. It feels like the end of an era – no way am I stopping wearing her but still… She has been in a pushchair. Scary.

On the more attached side of attachment parenting, Morgan has slept through twice so far this week and I am feeling shockingly rested. She is so laid back and contented to play now that I have been sewing clothes again. Bliss!

More seriously life-changing is the fact that she might be usurped in nine months time. I haven’t had a sign of a period since mid-August and I’m really niggling about it now. It isn’t really a help that I don’t feel pregnant because I’m not sure how feeling pregnant differs from thinking I am or could be – or which if any of those are more reliable as a sign. I don’t want to test because if I am I’ll be upset that I didn’t trust myself! I really don’t think I am. Oh I really don’t think I want another baby so soon.

3 October 2007

Crisis on the homestead - the Chickens have been eaten!

Another visit and my client is still not answering the door so I don’t know whether I’ll have any more work to worry about by the end of the week. Strangely after all the worry and stress and saying that I’m not ready to be away from Morgan I really don’t want to give it up. I need to feel like I can do something for somebody who isn’t intimately related to me – not exactly a selfish impulse but perhaps a proud one. I’ve never thought of being a mother as “just” anything but still I want to be useful at something else as well, just for a short while for a few hours a month.

Ah well, out of my hands I guess.

Today we had an awful shock that overwrites anything else I thought I wanted to say. We had a fox come in the night and the coop side door wasn’t properly shut and the rest is history. It wasn’t gory or terrible, and I expected to feel much more upset by it when/if we found them lying there half-eaten… I was more gutted for Jenna than anything.

She cried of course, and said that the naughty fox should have been told a lesson by its mummy not to eat her friends. She also said, jokingly I think, that if the fox comes back in our garden Daddy will smack its bottom (!). Lastly she told me not to worry, that she wouldn’t let the fox get me, and that Delia and Pippin are in heaven now. Rather than discuss the theology of that with her at her age, I just gave her a hug.

She wanted to see the bodies, and not seeing the point in shielding her from death I did. I didn’t let her see the wounds on the bodies though – or the fact that Pippin was missing her head. I really really don’t want her to be the one to find it… Guess I should alert the neighbours too.

Morgan was fascinated – as if this was a game that her feathery friends were playing and she was waiting for the joke, for them to leap up and peck at her fingers while she laughed like only a baby can. After a few minutes Jenna went back inside (shouting, “byebye chickens!”) and although she’s subdued she doesn’t seem too miserable. She won’t let me hug her again though.

The coop will have to be empty now until the spring time when we can buy some new hens. It’s strange and empty and I keep getting up to check on them as I type, or thinking I can hear them clucking in impatience wanting to be let out. I really miss them, and it has only been a day. They were part of my life, in just a few short months.