30 December 2007

Biscuits are not a proper dinner

Quick report - I've cooked every day since writing (three days) and I'm back to making nice lunches too, salads and pasta and sandwiches.

Other than keeping that up we have no real exciting plans for next year, and nothing major to do this next month either really. We're just enjoying unschooling and connected living, recovering from feeling angry all the time, reading and learning something new every day. And that's my resolution - to find new things to learn and to expand my horizons.

27 December 2007

Christmas update

The day itself I can hardly even recall exactly, just a week later. It was great, everything we wanted it to be. Relaxing and beautiful and somehow old... I wish I could give it a word. Presents included: A wooden drum, stacking houses and stacking cups, play silks, a cotton shopping bag and fabric pens, Miffy and Elsa Bleskow books, tree blocks, spinning top, clothes, small dolls and animals, dressing up things, little pieces of wooden jewellery... A reasonable ammount that we can both use and store. They were delighted with every single thing. :)

Boxing day was a bit of hard work really in the end. Lots of noisy toys, almost everything battery operated and everything plastic. Martin was furious - I was really worried about what to do with it all as there were some things we really couldn't keep (a tractor and farm animals that played a tune and made sounds, the least of all the reasons we couldn't keep it being that we already have the whole lot in wood lol). Especially the grotesque Vtech teddy that made scary growling noises and said the alphabet.

Totally inappropriate for a baby in every way to be quite frank (I am sorry if you own and like it but it's not coming into my home). Anyhow, Martin said that since we had gently and respectfully told them our boundaries on gifts (all we said was nothing electronic, they need clothes and books, we are avoiding plastic, Jenna loves board games, Morgan would like some musical instruments) and they had ignored us it wasn't anything to feel guilty about. We made a parenting decision, just as if we had said "no sweets" and they had given the children selection boxes.

We have had a pretty calm week since then though. My brother came back from Estonia for Dad's birthday and we all surprised him (he was shocked that his girlfriend, his mum, all of us kids, had managed to keep the secret). I do have to say though that three year olds deserve their reputation for not being able to keep quiet!

All morning every time a car pulled up she said, "That's Uncle Paul and Auntie Maarja!!" And my Dad said, "Don't be silly, they're a long long way away." I only told her because it was the only way to persuade her to leave the house that morning lol! When the door finally went Jenna said, "Maarja!!" Dad said, "Nooo! [long pause] oh Yes it IS!"

Morgan started properly walking some time in the last two weeks too, it's hard to tell a date because she has been able to do a few steps for ages but has just decided that now she actually wants to. It was Christmas day that we noticed though, she was walking across the room from toybox to sofa just for the fun of it. Now we find her walking round and round the room for no good reason, pure joy at the new skill and the sudden confidence. It's meant she is waking more at night for milk as usual, step forwards in the day equals retreat to safety at night. I don't mind at all though, just the happy expression as she shows off her dancing or does a little wobbly skip!

We have been eating appallingly since Christmas day though. There are biscuits in the house (about four boxes) and it's so easy for me to feed myself them instead of eating proper food. The girls are mostly eating cheese and raw vegetables, and lots of breakfast cereals (which Morgan still won't really eat lol so she has toast). It's strange, but this is probably the thing bothering me the most - that I'm not taking proper care of the children. Not so long ago I would have been more worried about my figure, but I'm noticing more what I'm doing to them I guess. I need to get back in the kitchen and stop buying chips on my way home.

17 December 2007

MORE lurgies

We're all sick, yucky snotty poorly, throwing up. We haven't been out all week and I'm sick of these four walls. I'm not yelling though, not enough energy. And suddenly I feel like Christmas is just a day away, with that last straggling present to buy and no food in the house. I need a rest, a day off, to call in sick. If only. At least I'm not being woken at night at the moment!

Morgan is starting to talk a bit more, still the same words really (only she has learnt to say NO very well indeed) but she wants to communicate so much. She gestures and points and babbles about things in her own little language. It's lovely, but I wish I understood more of it. Not that she can't make herself QUITE clear if she feels the need...

11 December 2007

Morgan, one whole year today my darling!

Happy Birthday, little one. What a long time to have been breathing our air. It seems barely possible that you were ever a few hours born and snuggling scrunchily-red for milk in the warm dark.

I have loved every day with you and been in the present moment with you frequently and joyfully and I wish there was more time, always I wish it lasted longer.

I cannot keep you here in this day, cannot even hold you still from change and growing and learning. Not for a second, and the sorrow at passing each stage is the sweeter joy in the instant. Stay here with me a while longer, don't let go too soon, but be free to make your own doors into the world and find your own paths there. Sweet precious Morgan.

10 December 2007

School rants, and remembering a year ago

Yesterday was our Christingle service and it was gorgeous. One more reason I actually like to be in the old building with so much history and distilled tradition around me. Oh the candles, Morgan was in baby heaven (little eyes lit up) up on my back in the sling while I held her candle for her. It was so perfectly reassuringly warm, being together and sharing something from my own childhood. Celebrating something together on whatever level we understand it. Holding hands, one big family.

Jenna is astonishing me at the moment with the things she knows without me ever having told her. She told me that the cheese she had was "garlic cheese" even though she has never been explicitly told the ingredients that I'm adding or in what order or been asked to taste some raw or anything! She just knew. She has used the words "surface" and "ignorant" to me this week in conversation, and she said to my mother that something was "versetile - really useful!" It's incredible what she can absorb, and what she chooses to absorb too. Certainly not exactly what I'd have chosen for her. Hedgehogs, what they eat and where they live. Stones, what gems are called and how they are made. Bonnie Prince Charlie. Ancient Egypt. Anything to do with babies and giving birth. Amazing.

Yet she still feels helpless and not in control of her own learning. She tells me that she needs to go to school because otherwise she won't know anything. She says that she needs a teacher to tell her things. Why is the view of school so ingrained that even she feels like this in the home that she has grown up in? It's ridiculous, this idea that we can't know anything without being told it.

All of these programs about the current fad for phonics are symptomatic. Given time, of COURSE the human brain isn't capable of assimilating those groupings without explicit teaching! If it was, then all children might dare to learn at different rates though... Micheal Rosen said it for me - they may learn to read, remarkable. But who will then give them back the love of books for their own sake?

This time last year, I felt my waters break with a tiny faint pop. And I took myself off up to bed.

8 December 2007

Christmas is coming and Jenna needs cake

We have given up on trying to have Mary and Joseph travel to the stable through advent; Jenna is too impatient and instead wants to play with the whole nativity set every day. She makes them talk to each other and we regularly have the scene enacted of Joseph asking Mary to marry him, and off angels making visits to all and sundry. The impatience for Christmas is coming out in other ways though.

She has been asking for a Christmas cake (she doesn't even eat fruit cake) so this afternoon we had a Christmas-can't-come-soon-enough Party. We baked chocolate cake and put snowmen on top. We made a nice meal of some more home-grown vegetables (in pasta sauce again), and dished up some breadsticks, salad and dips. We ate in the living room, on a picnic blanket, with the room lit up by all the candles we own.

The negative side is the advertising, everywhere, of everything we don't want for Christmas. We've really cut down on what, and what sort of things, we actually want the children to have. But somehow if she ends up seeing any television she loses all discrimination. She sits and says, "I want that, I need one of those, I need that, I want that toy," without even seeing properly what they are or what they do!

It drives me nuts and makes me wonder what on earth I did to turn herself into such a little consumer. It also makes me want more strongly to not watch television and not let her watch it either! I just say that I don't like it, and if she can earn the money she can buy it herself. She doesn't really earn any pocket money yet so it's a set-up. But it makes her feel better and less squished.

4 December 2007

BRILLIANT behaviour at a birthday party

This is almost entirely a brag on Jenna. She has been flipping UNbelievable today and I can't stop grinning. Probably it was more her than me (no, definately it was more her) but I'm really proud anyhow. Talk about a good time to be on best behaviour, usually the public at large only get her worst days (and mine). We went to a birthday party. Where there were sugary things and bottled drinks and all kinds of opportunities for Jenna to refuse to share and have tantrums at having to wait her turn. None of my worries on arriving came true.

Given a choice between biscuits and fruit she ate fruit. Given the only layer of the pass the parcel with no treat she did not complain. She waited her turn, and when given a sweet ate half of it and gave the rest to me. And it was a sweet she acutally likes. Offered a second sweet (Morgan's) she said that no, she had had one already. She passed plates at tea time.

She said please and thankyou and offered toys to the other children. She watched the babies and passed them back anything they dropped. This is so typical of her behaviour six months ago that I shouldn't be surprised but she has been harder work recently than she ever was as a two year old. I was delighted, and had to try not to make too much of a fuss of her (lest she think that she isn't expected to treat other children so nicely normally!).

She is a lovely child really! I am not raising a little brat! How can I forgive myself for thinking of her in such awful terms?

2 December 2007

Don't lick Baby Jesus...

Jenna: "I'm getting baby Jesus all dirty - I need to lick the chocolate off Him."Me: "Jenna we don't LICK baby Jesus. Put Him down."

We've had another busy family weekend, though it feels like Martin worked for fully half of it. Jenna has been pretty tired and down, and keeps having little screaming tantrums. I'm trying to remind her to use her words instead of yelling back or trying to shut her up. There just seems to be no early warning system in place for these upsets because she's upset all the time! We need a week of routine, eating regularly, napping properly, and just hanging out for cuddles and stories.

On the up-side, Morgan is finally interested in food for other reasons than play. I have seen her pack away some major portions of pasta and she is sleeping much better too. I can't tell if it's linked and her best eating days can be her worst nights, but at least generally things that were worrying me a little bit now aren't. Only being woken once really helps with that as at least my stress levels are lower.