22 December 2008

A quick note

To let those of you know who are unable to otherwise contact me, that we're alive and doing OK and the *insert expletive here* computer has been down for two weeks. Will be back with updates and belated postings of randomness in the new year, because I've certainly been writing a lot (and missing everyone).

Have a wonderful Christmas everyone, and I'll be back as soon as our friend manages to replace the components that exploded...

3 December 2008

More home-made decorations

Instructions from Kleas (found via The Crafty Crow). I was really grateful for the inspiration, because I've been looking for such a short sweet simple felting project ever since I got my felting supplies, and the girls are really a bit small to allow anywhere near needle felting...


Poking the wool with blunt instruments...


Finished but very very damp. The children were both a little bit damp too, but that's what comes of giving Jenna a squirty bottle filled with soapy water to wet the projects with - yes I *knew* what would happen, and I still gave her control of the bottle, the joys of neglectful parenting again. :)

In fact today has gone very much to plan (apart from conjunctivitis) and I'm still coping OK being on my own with them again. And we *did* actually make bread, so I feel pretty pleased with myself. Making bread is, perhaps, the benchmark of Coping in my house. This sort of thing used to come easy, and now it feels like work. But it's getting better, I think. I hope.

Another slightly random update

Home made mince pies!


You may *just* be able to see in this picture, Jenna has conjunctivitis. The doctor can't see us for another three days, so no antibiotics for her, and it looks like we're going to miss out on her friend's birthday party on Saturday. It always all comes at once, doesn't it? Morgan has been rubbing *her* eyes today too, further confirming my diagnosis.

The silly thing is, we could be seen today IF we went to the drop-in centre. Which has a lovely big soft play area in the corner and a very horrible crowded waiting room. Now I can stand the waiting room, but there's no way I can keep them both off the play equipment, and it just isn't fair to spread this to all those children. I don't get it - it seems like some mad sort of torture to put a lovely big play area in when chances are most of the children who are in an emergancy waiting area in the first place are probably ill and quite possibly contagious!

Plan for today: Make bread, wet-felt some hanging ornaments for friends, wait in for the post (I'm expecting candles and essential oils, yay).

2 December 2008

And this morning....

... we have SNOW!



Yes, and that is our street looking very terraced and grey (once again you can see why I long to live somewhere green). And yes, it is still dark in this picture - the girls had to go and make a snowman before breakfast. And yes, that is Morgan eating snow there. :S What can I say? Sometimes the best parenting runs to benign neglect. ;)

The garden looked beautiful and magical, but apparently was no use for gathering enough snow to do anything with (the garden is also lovingly neglected and the grass is knee deep to a small Morgan) and also was no good for sliding. We finally retreated to eat hot cereal after nearly an hour, when Morgan was turning slowly blue and both girls had soaked their gloves through.

Decorations!

Well we don't seem to have any working lights (isn't that traditional?) but up went the tree anyway, and all the other bits and pieces.






Izzy likes the tree very much. But apparently tinsel is not all that edible, even for a strange cat like ours who eats hair bands and bubble wrap...

It just remains for us to take our walk around the nearest woods and gather a bit of greenery. :)

1 December 2008

Woodland Winter Walk

So this is how we spent our Sunday, in the freeezing cold having a nice winter walk with friends. We had a car again just for the weekend, because we were going for a meal in Nottingham with Martin's family on Saturday night (which was actually really lovely and not at all stressful!).

And Sunday found us in Sherwood Forest, wrapped up as warmly as possible. Thanks to Naomi and family for a most wonderful afternoon (even if Morgan did turn a little bit blue in spite of layers and sling and everything).




I don't think Tristan was very happy about having to give the rainbow umbrella back though...

Assorted further disjointed doing stuff

So a while back I promised a picture of Morgan's birthday present. Maybe that wasn't here, but anyhow, I know you all hang out in the same places lol, so here it is.



We've been doing more Christmassy making, decorations and the like. Today we're all about the paper chains. I'm not sure my house is ever going to be unglued again. Anyway, later when Martin gets home the tree is going up and the nativity is going to take over the mantlepiece and all of the wintery clutter *currently* up there is going onto the season table. So no doubt this week will be full of seasonal pictures from me!



More soap making...



A wire and bead season table make (not for me but shh, it's a secret)!



Scented cookie decorations (apple sauce, PVA glue, and cinnamon) all ready for gingham ribbon and white painted "icing"...

Not sure if the children are coming down with something. Jenna at least is really droopy, and Morgan felt unusually warm last night and woke twice for milk so I'm keeping my eye on them. Once we get the paperchains off the floor and out of the way a little we're going to make fudge (I finally found non-nestle condensed milk!) and then hopefully walk to the post office.

Jenna isn't keen on the idea of going anywhere today, but I'm not sure how long I can stay Nice Mummy if we don't get fresh air. This is my first full day on my own with them in nearly two weeks and I'm determined not to ruin it by being hysterical. Even though when I woke up this morning I could hear little voices downstairs and that turned out to be the children eating tonight's surprise pudding for their breakfasts...

And lastly, can I say one more time that I am REALLY SICK of being told that the best way for me to stop being depressed would be to send the children to nursery/wean Morgan/stop babywearing/slow down. It's these things that are keeping me here, for now, and the last thing I need is to stop the things that make me feel I actually can do this, do at least *something* the way I want to. And can you imagine me dealing with depression PLUS hormonal low from weaning??

28 November 2008

Winter crafty stuff

Well I've been making a few more little presents, bits and pieces and playing with materials. I'm not going to post alll of the pictures lol, but a couple that I really like (and first attempts of things too).



The cute little bunny was for a friend's little one, but he's the nicest little scrap-rabbit I've made in years so obviously I have to show him off. I've made a couple of similar ones this week for other little people I know.



I'm quite impressed with this - basically one of my cocoon babies, but with clothes and a beard. I wanted a Father Winter for the season table, and thought he came out quite nicely really. My felting is slightly less successful on the whole than my sewing lol, so this is the best I could do.

There's something really whole and positive that comes out of making something from nothing. At a time when I mostly doubt my parenting skills and mostly feel down about what I can do, I can make things with my hands and just for a moment put aside everything else. Things that don't ask anything of me, but make me feel just a little bit less hopeless and helpless - because, really, what the crafts are all about is the joy of the people recieving them.

I guess this is occupational therapy for the depressed mama, right? The children have been gone during the day (out with grandparents) for three days now (something else to feel guilty about but knowing that it would be so much worse if I was continuing to let them be hurt by my mood swings and helpless crying). Morgan has been back to nurse at night. Tomorrow they come home for real, and to be honest I'm terrified of a repeat of last week, no matter how much I think I've worked through these last couple of days by myself.

25 November 2008

A shoe! Praise the Lord, we found the lost shoe!

Yes, Jenna has two shoes again!! That fit her!!! And they are sooo cleeean, I'm a bit freakishly parent-y about puddle jumping in fact because the shoes are SO PINK!

If anyone is interested in such minuitae, the missing shoe had been hidden in the dressing up box and although we'd been through it three times we hadn't spotted it. Maybe there's too much in the dressing up box. Or maybe there's too much pink in the dressing up box. Hey, I have a pink-obsessed four, against ALL of my own preferences.

In the meantime, I saw a doctor who did just what I thought she would and listened for about thirty seconds before printing me out a prescription for antidepressents. Which I still haven't decided what I'm going to do about. But Martin's work have agreed to pay him for the entire week he has had off, and that's one more subject for praise since they don't actually have to. And the baby kicked today and I got that excited feeling back, just for a moment, that I really really want to meet this baby, and it isn't just one more thing to demand energy from me when I don't have it after all - it's a real person and it's going to be OK.

24 November 2008

Presents and parcels

More things arrived with my mail this week (yes, apart from an unpaid bill reminder and lots of junk flyers that the children spent a happy hour cutting to shreds and sticking together - the flyers, not the bill)...

Lots and lots of baby clothes from Gina (thankyou so much), and a lovely maternity top (which isn't in the picture because I wore it that day!), and some seeds, and a green kids book. Also arrived, a book from the GP Lets scheme which I read right away and found very helpful (thankyou Laura!).



Then a friend dropped off this birthday present (yup, I'm now 24) and my dad took me out for lunch, and bought some books I've wanted for a while. :)



And here are Martin and Morgan on my birthday, heading back to Emma and Chris's house for a while. Jenna is in Emma's arms in the distance!

21 November 2008

Mummy is sad, therefore...

...mummy needs cake! Four year old logic at work!



I like four year old logic.

Therapy

aka What Happens When Sarah is Hiding From the Children...





Soap making! SLS soap base from Anne at www.summernaturals.co.uk (and some other lovely ingredients too, dead sea salt for more Christmas presents, calendula petals, essential oils...).

I've also been sewing and making jewellery a LOT. Anything rather than cry right now to be honest...

20 November 2008

A quick post

Still here, hanging in there. Martin has taken a couple of days off work to make sure I'm not on my own with the children, it really frightened him to come home and see me so lost. He said that if work docked him pay we'd just find a way to cope, or try to claim income support to make up the difference (since we're already on such a low income). Thankfully that doesn't look likely; his boss sent him home early and told him not to come back until he's sure I'm OK.

I started taking some pre-natal vitamins with omega 3, and extra calcium/magnesium, and I'm already sleeping a bit better than I was, but... No quick fixes, I know. And that's it, for now. The good things will still be good things when I can see them again.

19 November 2008

*deep breath* Difficult Confession Time

I know I've done a good job at hiding it, good enough to keep it from myself anyway, so please don't be concerned that you missed some big neon sign or that you perhaps could have been the one to help me sort it out. It doesn't work that way, you can't take responsibility for somebody else's mental state, that way madness lies.

Yes, the D Word is Back. I am depressed. Say it like it's an AA meeting. I'm Sarah and I'm clinically depressed. Excuse the sarcasm, that's a result of giving myself a major headache and then crying for roughly ten hours for no reason I know of apart from feeling frightened and out of control for having admitted I can't fix this on my own.

Until the last two or three weeks I hadn't felt like this for four years. I have no obvious trigger this time either - I suppose being ill for so long, knowing that I'm not eating very well still, pregnancy hormones, those things won't help, but - it isn't the children, the pregnancy, a big problem in my life, a relationship crisis. It's just I suppose that this illness can sometimes creep back so slowly it's hard to spot until it's too late.

I read some things yesterday that finally helped me to see that I'm not helping anyone or anything by soldiering on and not accepting that I'm having problems. I'm trying to decide how to move forwards and what I can do to get well again.

And I'm sorry for dumping this all here (again) - I'm not in need of the right response that will make it OK, or permission to be honest (I got that from a few of you all through yesterday, and I'm sure you will never know which of you it was that helped me to see what is going on in my life but THANKYOU).

17 November 2008

Baby Plans!

This is what *would* be a birth plan, except it's for us as a family really not a list of stuff for healthcare providers. There are probably only a couple of things on here that I will need to share with my midwives when they arrive for the birth, and those will be written up especially just in case I need to transfer and have something to wave at people and say "I did THINK about this, I do KNOW what I want!"

Anyway, I hope you don't mind me sharing, or worry that I'm getting caught up with a perfect ideal and am not prepared for changes of plan. :) I'm actually more comfortable than I've ever been with everything being out of control and going out of the window, to my huge surprise. Anyhow, random thoughts.

Pregnancy

- I want to dance more, meditate more, have fun with having a bump more!
- I want to appreciate every moment, start making a baby box right already, take more pictures of me when pregnant, and not fear getting attached.
- I want a celebration of some kind with my women friends, for which occasion I want to henna my belly and have it on display. I don't want gifts and fuss, I want prayer and community and intimacy.
- I want to avoid any testing at all apart from urine strips. This includes the doppler, which I'd prefer the MW only use infrequently, and the GTT which I do NOT want. We will not scan unless any problem is detected by other means, or if I have bleeding and can't endure waiting it out.
- I want to make things for the baby, booties and clothes and things with love in every stitch. I want to avoid spending time with catalogues and in baby shops, where I will only be tempted to spend money on junk, and have private rants at the anti-child culture I'm supporting with such purchases anyway. I want to create things with a sense of fun and lots of colour!
- I want to massage my bump and talk to it every day. I want to remind myself of the life I carry and dwell on it. I want to encourage the children to talk to the baby, and to pray together for it.

Labour

- I want to set myself a labour project to do when I am pacing and worrying. I don't want to know what time it is or how long the contractions are. I will make sure no clocks are available to me!
- I want to decorate the living room for the birth, with soft fabrics and big pictures. I want to light candles and burn essential oils and make everything feel *mine*.
- My birth companion will be Martin, and I trust him to field difficult questions and to know how best to consult with me when I'm feeling fragile and/or spaced out.
- I want Jenna to be there, woken up if necessary, with my mum as her attendant. I want her to feel useful and included, and be treated patiently and respectfully - and to be taken out for a treat or other distraction if she is finding it hard going.
- I want to delay getting into the pool for longer and not be too afraid of the pain to walk around more. I want to go with the flow of the contractions and be more aware of the path I am taking rather than feeling that I am performing for better or worse. I want to sing and dance in labour if I feel able, and for nobody to ask me how things are going or if I'm OK.
- I want to have Martin write down times so that I can have a lasting record, and take pictures, but I will not organise anything myself - I don't want to be told about progression at all either unless I ask.
- I don't mind the doppler being used when I'm in the pool, and when the midwives arrive, but I don't want the readings to be trusted over and above my own instincts about how we are doing. I want minimal checking and will not require a dialation check unless I feel things are very very slow to progress and need some encouragement. I want to be encouraged that whatever is happening is happening for a reason and my body is doing its job.
- I want someone to listen when I rant and just validate not evaluate. I want my experience to be shared and to be valued, not dismissed because I'm being silly (and in advanced labour, I will expect to be silly/childish/spaced out/wierdly philosophical).
- I want people to remember just to ask yes or no questions, and not bother me when I'm getting on with it. I want a peaceful room with peaceful people, and for Martin to protect it if necessary by asking people to leave.
- I want to be reminded that when I panic it's because things are further on than I think and I'm probably transitionning already.
- I want to NOT push if I can manage to stop myself, and I want to not talk about it. Anyone who says, "breathe" or "push" probably needs to leave the room lest they incur the wrath of the Birthing Mama. "Yes, that's it, keep going until you're ready to stop, work with your body, you're doing great!" is probably OK.

The First Moments

- I want nobody to talk as I deliver, and no bustle in the room. I want time and space.
- I want a picture taken in the pool, as soon as possible without a fuss made about it.
- I want to leave the cord intact and deliver the placenta in the water. If someone else needs to hold the baby I want Martin to get in the pool with us or hold the baby close to me by leaning over the side.
- I want a full lotus birth to be the *assumed* position, and anything else to happen because I suggested it at the time - not because of anyone else. I want to trust the route of non-intervention at this stage as at every other, and not to actively do anything that can and will happen in its own sweet time.
- I want to not be hurried to dress, to dress the baby, to feed the baby, to weigh the baby, to get out of the pool, etc. I know how to keep a newborn baby warm, even when I AM on a birthing high, and any observations can be made just fine without pestering me or trying to get me to move.
- I want the baby to find its own way to the nipple. I want to lie back and be together, with the placenta draining in a colander on the side next to us, and I don't want to move from my sofa for some time. If the baby needs any help, that can happen on my tummy if possible.
- I want to not bother with weighing if there is no health concern, though reserve the right to be female and change my mind out of the merest idle curiosity.
- I want a celebration meal, a cake, an occasion - and just a few hours worth of babymoon.

The Baby

- I want to avoid helping the baby to latch on pre-emptively, and for Trust to be my first assumption rather than thinking that because my other babies needed help this one will.
- I want to not have the baby out of arms at all except for being in our bed - I want to not even spend a second worrying about putting it down. I hope that nobody will suggest otherwise.
- I want to not use baby holding devices, not even try to. I don't even want a buggy or bouncer or cot in the first place. If the baby doesn't touch the floor for the first few months, that's fine by me. Again, I can suggest these things for myself if the baby and I are needing something other than each other.
- I want to wear fewer clothes under the slings, even make a babywearing coat if I need to, to get more skin to skin time. I want to EC again and feel that I have no need to push it, rush it, or make it work perfectly.
- I want to do more baby yoga, and more baby swimming, and both of those sooner and with greater confidence. I want to try back carries sooner, and generally handle my baby with less fear.

If you read all of that, all credit to you lol.

Oops...

There are many many reasons I love having my four year old around.

Here's one for you... She's the friend you always wished you had as a teen, you know ladies, the one who would gently but totally honestly tell you if you were making a fool of yourself? I had those friends then, but sometimes I obviously still REALLY need one.

On the bus, she leant over and whispered something in a conspirital tone and a half-amused-half-horrified expression. I didn't catch it. "What was that, sweetie?" Still in a whisper, but with greater urgency and a bigger grin... "Mummy, you're showing your boobies!"

I buttoned my cardigan up promptly. And remembered why sometimes that kind of honesty is JUST what you need.

15 November 2008

Lots more pictures

Here y'are, current-ish bump pic, from a week ago.



Firework picture. Unfortunately forgot the camera when we had our own little fire, and we didn't get our traditional fireworks walk because the girls were out again! Anyhow, glitter aplenty.



Chutneys and pickles and cordial and haroset, made last night after we all went swimming. Therapy. ;)



The end of Autumn on the season table, and the start of our first wintery items. :)

14 November 2008

Still messing around lol...

... let me know if you can actually read the current version!

The bad news is that messing around too long on here is not a sign that all has returned to the usual balance, more a sign that I'm hiding out because I want to pretend for just a little bit longer that the living room chaos doesn't need dealing with...

Hair brushing and other stories of letting go ;)

Well I'm still right in the middle of my immature temper tantrum (yup it has lasted all week so far). I'm so flippin TIRED all the time, in mitigation, but I think the biggest part of it is that gentle discipline is so hard for me, day to day, and occasionally I just have a build up of resentment and "what's the point" feelings.

And I know I have to work through those and get back on track, I know what I'm choosing and why, and that character is sometimes a painful thing to build. I just have to work with the step-by-step slow toil if I don't want to spend the rest of my life being this angry hurting person who does what they hate. Prayer appreciated. ;)

But, something positive to come out of a down time. I'm starting to think again about some of the things that are still left unquestioned in our lives. I'm starting to really think about why I find it so difficult to be interruptable, and I'm coming to the conclusion that part of it is that I've spent a lot of my life being asked to postpone what I want to do. Some healing to come out of that is my finding more time to do things I truly want to do for my own reasons, crafting, reading. The parenting upshot of the same realisation is that I'm more concious of when I'm asking my children to drop everything to comply, and undervaluing the importance of the work they are doing.

I've also had some strange moments when I'm insisting that Jenna particularly do something she doesn't want to. And then the thought has popped into my head, "Why?" You know those times.

Jenna, you MUST stop play fighting. Why? Um, because I'm being overprotective, carry on, I'll stop you if I think it's crossed the line into *real* fighting...

Hair brushing is a really big one I've let go of. Jenna has short, bouncy, thick hair. It's just like mine - it doesn't hold knots and washing immediately gets rid of each and every tangle. Brushing it makes it flyaway and brittle, and is actually pretty counter-productive (I haven't brushed my own hair in about a year). Yet something in me found it SO HARD to let go of. Especially when going to my mum's church (where I'm up against the weight of history, it being the church I grew up in myself).

Brushed, Jenna doesn't look much tidier exactly. She just looks as if I made an effort. And somehow, the idea that other people will look at me and think I don't care what they think... Still scary, you know? Even though, mostly, I care much more what Jenna thinks. And oh, those brushings... She howls and cries no matter how gentle I'm trying to be, I get impatient and tell her to hold still, and I CAN'T leave it half done and it turns into this horrific battle. Let's just say I have a new sympathy for my mum trying to brush MY hair as a child.

Anyway, I've just decided that I'm not willing to battle with my children any more. There are times in life when it WILL be something life threatening, and where I WILL need to intervene. But not because some little old ladies will think I'm an incompetant mother for avoiding something that uneccesarily hurts and upsets a little girl. When said little girls starts to care about what the old ladies think, we'll talk again. ;)

Signing off on a positive then, with a lot of burdens lighter and a lot of priorities changing. And hope, again, that feeling so negative doesn't last long.

12 November 2008

Things you could never picture yourself saying, before you had kids...

...unfortunately I so rarely remember to write them down. Take this evening for example;

"Look, anything with wheels is a train. Anything without wheels is either a house, or a tiger."

Pause. Think. Did I really just say what I think I heard come out of my mouth? Really?

10 November 2008

In a bad mood again (sorry)

No, nothing is actually wrong, I'm just so TIRED and GRUMPY. I don't know why, I just wish it wasn't so easy to take it out on the children by becoming a snappy and horrible person any time they do anything remotely inconvenient to me (eg walk too far in front OR dawdle behind as we walk). I'm nagging. And I really want to stop.

This is my advice to anyone currently feeling the same; try really hard to take deep breaths and count to twenty before saying anything, and use that time to actually rehearse a way to say "I am not in a happy mood, it is not your fault, but you need to help me!" Admittedly it doesn't seem to be working very well, and it probably won't work at all if you have tinier tinies than mine. But ah well. I'm trying. And if anyone has anything better, please share!

Sometimes... Sometimes I just don't want to try any more. You know? Sometimes I know what is right and good and whole, what I should do, what I WANT to do, and it just seems like too much damn effort. I just want to throw all of my toys out of the proverbial pram, be really unpleasant, anything that will make me feel like whatever private unhappiness I am going through will be spread as far as possible. Childish? Yes. But that's the way it is sometimes.

Sometimes... Sometimes it doesn't even take anything to set it off. Call it hormones, whatever. I have tried telling myself to snap out of it by the way. ;)

Back to breathing and counting and trying to rehearse what I want to say so it doesn't revert to "go away and leave me alone just for ONE MINUTE will you??!"

7 November 2008

Blog admin-y type post

Um, who has my copy of Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves? I'm not in urgent need of it or anything lol, but I forgot who I leant it to.

Thankyou. :)

6 November 2008

Eeek!

My girls got stranded today!

The date day went wonderfully, cinema (both *loved* Quantum of Solace), putting the world to rights, holding hands, peaceful walks amongst crisp leaves at twilight. Yeah yeah I know. Sorry. :P

Then we had a phone call to say that Morgan wanted to stay because Jenna was staying, would it be OK if they tried and brought her back if she didn't settle, etc. I felt a bit uncomfortable, a bit worried that they might not take her seriously if she asked to be brought home at an inconvenient time (like 2am). But she sounded really happy and they were having fun, she didn't want to come home and be separated from Jenna, so we said yes.

And heard nothing. All night. My baby!

This morning I woke at half past seven (!) and felt decidedly odd not to have been woken an hour earlier by jumping-on, Morgan's usual method of asking for morning milk. I pined until I phoned and heard both girls laughing and playing over breakfast. Morgan HAD woken at 4am, but gone right back to sleep. Jenna had been upset that Morgan was awake, and had suggested taking her home to mummy, and fussed over her, but she had shouted briefly and nothing more and they had both then slept until 7am.

At lunch time on my way home from befriending I got a call to say that my father-in-law had come down with something and was really weak and couldn't drive! Argh! So, both tinies, stuck in another town with no transport and with me unable to get them.

To avoid rambling on too long, my mum was working a half day and rescued us. But in the meantime I cried all the way home on the bus and worked myself up into quite a state to think of them so far away and not knowing how to get them home.

All's well that ends well though, right?

5 November 2008

Snippets of irrelevant stuff

Bump is bigger. And booting Daddy. And responding when I talk to it. I've been making baby things and am starting to get excited about having another baby... And I'm only being sick once or twice and then being able to eat normally for the rest of the day. I'm craving protein and spicy food.

I cut my hair off, a couple of weeks back (but it gets enough of a reaction still that I thought telling you belatedly made sense). I always have that urge to cut my hair short when something has changed - managed to resist it post-miscarriage and have been holding off since getting pregnant again, but it finally had to happen. It isn't *short* and it's fairly even for saying I did it myself, but it has lost about ten inches.

Morgan is mostly out of nappies except when out and about. She's dry at night 90% of the time, and asks for nappies when she wants them. It's crazy to hear her taking herself to the toilet in the middle of the night and going back to her own bed! She's too little!

Her language is really gaining fast, and she's up to sometimes using a few words together. She repeats almost everything that is said to her (or the last word that she hears) like a little echo, and shouts joyously when she sees a "dyder" (spider) "og" (dog) "at" (cat) "baby" (obvious) "nayul" (snail) or "oss!" (horse) All of her favorite words are for living things; all of Jenna's favorite first words were descriptions (pretty, like, loud, not nice, funny etc).

Jenna has a total glove obsession in the sudden cold weather. She can't leave the house without them, and has about five pairs now to make sure we don't lose them (thank goodness for Grandmas is all I can say). She also ALWAYS seems to have about ten conkers in her pockets, no matter how I work at getting them back onto the season table.

She cut her own hair, too. Not terribly, but enough to look a bit lopsided. We pointed out that waiting for someone to do it for her might be more sensible next time, but didn't react other than that (to her surprise and mine), and that was the end of that. I was dreading another occasion like that, and thought I'd be furious and react immaturely as usual, but it was OK. :)

A discipline triumph - not because I scored a point or made her feel guilty, but because I had self control and it seems to get easier with practice. Out loud, for the children, I count to three when something needs to happen NOW. In my head, for myself, I usually have to count to twenty before speaking. ;)

Our wooden things came from Mamakopp's etsy and they are gorgeous! She not only refunded some postage to make sure I wasn't overcharged, but she sent it airmail and it arrived within a week of my order. The speed and cost of shipping made it about as convenient as Myriad, so if anyone was thinking of ordering something for Christmas, she's a star and you totally should go ahead. :) Can't take pictures yet because more than half of it is in hiding so that it can come from the Inlaws for Christmas. Another limiting tactic for the amount of Christmas junk... ;)

I've tried felting and had mixed sucess. Father Winter is brilliant, but the needle felted gnome is less impressive. The little felt scene is OK, improved greatly by having a little wooden bear on it from the above mentioned lovely mama (who also sent a free gift with the package!).

Martin has had a couple of days off work and the girls are going out today so we can have a "date day". So I'm not coming back online again for yet another couple of days. I'm sure you're really missing me. ;)

1 November 2008

Halloween activities, more craft, and more learning fun

A trip to the farm shop with grandma for hot chocolate and cake in the cafe, and some cream, maple syrup, and apples for after tea. Then a walk in the wonderful yellow, red and orange leaves at Allestree Park. I couldn't get a good shot of the trees, my flash isn't powerful enough!



A gift for Jenna, a home-made fuzzy felt board with some nice autumnal shapes for her to play with. My felt arrived yesterday and it's all beautiful, I had to make something as soon as it got here! The board is a cardboard sandwich with blue felt on one side and a lovely olive green the other. I intend to use it behind the season table, and make new themed felt "stickers" as often as I get around to it. I was quite pleased with my tree, cut out freehand because the template I made wouldn't stay put.



Carved pumpkins all ready to light. We made soup with the innards, and baked the seeds as a snack. Shame there isn't enough pumpkin for pie as well as soup! The girls chopped up the pieces I scooped out of the middle, and as Jenna did so she found a bit that was a perfect arch shape. She stood it on its end, and said, "That shape is in my name. It's a (whispers "j.. e.. n..") 'N', it's a 'n' shape!" There we go, learning about letter sounds and shapes, craft, and cookery, all at the same time. ;)

Night celebration

Yes, another fire (of course). The wood was damp, so it didn't exactly roar. But the children enjoyed it anyway, and helped to throw pine-cones on to glow and crackle. They are very sensible near heat; this time we had the amusement of hearing Morgan tell Jenna, "BOP! OT!" (Stop, hot!) When she ran near the fire!



Inside again with mugs of hot creamy soup, cooked while the children played in the garden in the dark.



Pumpkin lanterns now lit and glowing. We talk every year about how the candle inside is like the light inside us, life that we were given, gifted, blessed with. We tell the old old story about hiding the light away, and how people only know what is within us when we let it show - when we live in that light. We always carve our pumpkins with lots of stars and a moon, reminders that when we do good we "shine like stars in a crooked and depraved generation."



And for pudding, baked apples with cinnamon, maple syrup and cream! Jealous? :P

Halloween rant

OK another rant. Yeah, you should be expecting ranting from me in my current state (ie still full of cold and related tummy bug, PLUS hyperemesis and starting to be spacey from the deydration - but I can still rant, OK?).

I am really truly freaked out by the reactions of my friends and family to Halloween. Incomprehensibly irritated and frustrated. There's my dad and his wife, who if I'm really honest, seem actually scared by the festival. They go to a church where they have a "light party" for the children and don't mention Halloween at all. The Lord only knows I'd probably be excommunicated for calling it Samhain (no, wait, they *already* kicked me out for marrying against my parent's wishes!). ;)

My mum is more sensible, but simply doesn't celebrate. It has nothing to do with her traditions, and as far as she's concerned any worry she has is directed more against the Americanised excesses of sweet eating and unsuitable-film-watching that will mean the kids she teaches come back to term acting a little wild.

Friends with children have similar reactions to my Dad (and they aren't all Christians). They worries about walking their children past shops with halloween displays. They don't mention the celebration at all in fact. They worry that mention of monsters and ghosts etc will frighten their child. As if the problem was the dark heart of the festival itself rather than idiots getting carried away.

What is Samhain really about? In some cultures and faiths there IS a belief that the walls between the worlds become thin. But my pagan friends don't "dabble in the occult", they celebrate and worship the powers of Mother Earth, they live lightly with her and are peaceful and gentle people. Most of them think it downright rude to attempt to disturb the spirits of the dead at this time, and at most will light a candle and say a prayer of thanks and remembrance. They don't worship the darkness, only acknowledge it exists. So why is paganism and witchcraft so feared? Doesn't perfect love cast out fear?

On how we marked the darkening of the year and the drawing in of winter, later. Just a question for the Christian parents reading this blog. Do we teach our children to fear darkness, or even revel in it as forbidden? Or do we take a little wisdom from others, and acknowledge it, and pass on to our families that we have nothing to fear and that the great movement of the seasons is a cycle designed to remind us year after year that the light returns, and is returning soon.

And do we re-confirm to those who have often suffered from our lack of understanding that we have no intention of trying to understand? Or do we stand alongside them at the turning of the seasons and say, there is enough similar between us that I do not reject you even where I disagree with you. We are all human, and we are all equal.

30 October 2008

Don't mind me, I'm just a little rain cloud

Well good stuff has happened in the last few days, and nice activities have been done, and busyness has occured, and lovely happy children have been being angelic and sweet and thoughtful and kind. But I haven't felt like blogging about it.

I've been trying very very hard not to be the raincloud in every "normal" conversation. I've accidentally given some cruelly honest replies when I've meant to be gentle and deal with a person in love and understanding rather than impatient cold logic. If any of you are on here reading and know what I'm talking about, I'm sorry, I'm trying!

And then I find that other people are having a gloomy week too, and I think, if I can't be gloomy on my own blog, where can I?

I'm still sick. Every single day - EVERY DAY! I'm slightly dehydrated and drinking too much too fast makes it worse because it makes me more sick. I'm also full of cold. My lovely children are doing so well, with their little snotty noses and their extra shivery need for heating and blankets and cuddles. But I, for some reason, am suffering from what I would normally refer to as Man 'Flu.

All of you lot, you're the best thing that has happened to me all week, and it's hard to be negative around so many kind thoughtful people. But I want a hug now, and to please please Lord stop being sick. :(

28 October 2008

New-to-me and beautiful

A whole parcel of new clothes for the girls, bought in local charity shops. A winter coat that will fit Jenna next year, and a lovely plain smock top (pink, right at the back). A stripy purple and white dress, and a bright red kimono-style dress for Morgan. Hats for both girls AND me. And a turquoise sleepsuit for the baby, because it was so nice to see something so bright and cheerful.



See, they really love the hats. 50p for both of them!



And, arrived today, a box of goodies from another LETs trade. Organic and alternative Morgan things (how can a child who lives in trousers own hardly any?!) - especially love the hairy wooly jumper and the lovely cream and flowered leggings. The brown hem and dark pink socks to the far right of the shot are Morgan, crashed out napping on the sofa. :)



I think the girls will be nicely wrapped up, colourful and warm this winter!

27 October 2008

Oh my poor head...

I have told my children to "SHUT UP!" at least twice in the last hour. I don't know what this blog post is *for* except to say that this is not a parenting tactic I advise, and maybe to demonstrate once more for the doubters that I am not a naturally gentle person.

How many times in five minutes can one person hear the same line of one song?? How many times in four hours? How many times does the toddler have to shriek a banshee-like protest at the pre-schooler picking her up AGAIN after being told to keep her hands to herself at least twice that number of times?

How is one human being supposed to keep their sanity with this, for days at a time? I haven't felt this frustrated for weeks - maybe I don't have the energy to notice stuff that bugs me when I'm throwing up every few minutes (or maybe locking myself in the bathroom is the answer to the noise issue).

If it weren't tipping it down I could turn them out into the garden, but even I'm not that mean. Actually, I AM that mean but I don't want to be cleaning mud out of my carpet for the next few weeks.

Breathing exercises are not cutting it. I need earplugs.

A very earth-mothery weekend

On Saturday we had a quiet day; A peaceful walk, stopping in the woods to make mudpies (and realising that we had to get into grandmas car with dirty hands!). Then Jenna rolled some more candles for Christmas presents.





The girls cut up apples for a snack, Jenna making circle slices across the middle to show lots of stars, before letting me cut around the star to give her finished apple rings to eat. We intended to make cake, but all five apples got eaten in the end with some help from Daddy.





We did some re-organising on the season table, and I tried my hand at making a felted bowl by winding wool around a balloon. It worked, but wasn't exactly bowl shaped by the time it was done!



After Church on Sunday we came home and cleaned the house. I wasn't feeling sick for once, so I cleared those areas of the house that never get dealt with. The piles of paperwork and "useful stuff" by the PC, the craft things that have been piling up on the dining table since I stopped cooking. The window sill (again).

Interspersed with stories, cuddles, and milk.



We had tea at the table, like we used to, with lots of candles lit (and tea lights in the jars the children painted last week). For the forty-hundredth time, we ARE going to keep the house like this. And we ARE going to keep the table clear so we eat at it EVERY evening. Of course, I'm back to being ill again today...

Autumn Table

Here we are then, full-to-bursting Season Table for autumn.



It won't be long before it starts to empty, after burning the seeds and leaves in our bonfire, and eating up those pumpkins and butternut squash! And then I have to start changing things over to winter, which I'm looking forward to more this year having more ideas of crafts and things. Last year it was really bare.

24 October 2008

Blessings beyond measure, thoughts from afar

I have friends to whom distance is no object, who reach out to touch us and recognise who we are and what we need.

My warmest thanks and appreciation.

For Becky, who made some perfect little textured knits to add to the treasure basket for the new baby. And a little organic dolly who has been so thoroughly loved and kissed and carried around by the two bigger people he is already dirty (can't *quite* see in the picture though lol).



For Denise, who thought of absolutely everything.



A beautiful felted bowl, just what I wanted for holding almost an entire tree of conkers on the season table (isn't that gorgeous autumnal knitting?). One of my favorite story books as a child, grasped with eager Jenna-hands the moment it came out of the box. Pencils to make little girls smile. Tea to bliss out one very contented mummy (whose favorite blend it is - how on EARTH did you know?!). Lovely tiny baby things for a heavy little bump who is growing every day. And a bunch of rosemary for remembrance, for other dear little ones.

And it's not these lovely things themselves that mean so much no matter how appreciated. It's that these people and a whole host of other mummies made a hard-work week into a little oasis of celebration.

Steps forwards and back

Jenna has had half of the small toys out this morning, playing farms on top of the dressing up box. See a river in the foreground, and all of the people and animals sharing houses in the background. :)



I'm having a tough time sleeping now, Morgan has been kicking me in the back all night and I can't wait for her to have her bed back! She's so wriggly. I love co-sleeping with her, LOVE it, but it's now getting exhausting. On the other hand, she's been sleeping nappyless because I'm right there and in lighter sleep to take her when she suddenly sits bolt upright and says "yoiyet!" I'm not sure how she'll feel about wearing a nappy at night again, but maybe by the end of the week she'll start to take herself?

She's very early to be nappy free overnight, but what's a trusting attached mama to do when she says "NO eep NO eep" every evening and cries if I try to put it on? Put a towel down and hope she knows what she's asking, is what.

The past few months we're almost totally nappy free again. I'm not sure whether it's been a return to late EC or the start of early potty learning. I suppose that's the wonder of it, that there is no line between this and that. She has always been aware of her body and she has usually asked to be changed right away if wet or dirty - even from five months when she stopped full-time EC. And just like Jenna did (who wasn't ECed at all) she started taking herself to the potty from not long after her first birthday, if she was nappyless.

But there's no hurry. I don't understand why potty training has to be this one-way street, short and simple. Nothing else in parenting is! Sometimes there are pauses. Sometimes we seem to go back a step. It's all a learning, a communication, a gradual easing into interdependance that is SOUGHT not independance that is pushed by only one party in the relationship. On a bad day, I care that she asks for the toilet and doesn't go - or fetches a nappy to pee on. On a good day, I'm just amazed by her - for who she is, where she is, no other expectations or requirements.

Fortunately we very rarely have an altogether miss, and she loves to helpfully fetch a nappy to clean up after herself (and even gets out the tea tree spray lol). But even then, it's only on a bad day that I see this as a failure. Why can't you just "get it"? In one go? Without all this stopping and starting?

Because that's just not how humans learn new skills. Only development charts imply otherwise. ;)

Also fortunately the gaining of language skills is now going a bit faster. Of all of the frustrations my toddler and I endure, this is the one that makes us closest to falling out. I've never been here before (and obviously neither has she!). And I really don't know what she wants half of the time. I wish I did. If mindreading was an option I'd prefer that to wishing away the baby words.

This too shall pass, this too shall pass.

All too fast, all too fast.

22 October 2008

The dangers of internet shopping for an unschooler

I love Waldorf toys. I really really want a large round mandala-type puzzle, and some more Ostheimer-type figures. This has a *little* to do with what I can forsee my children wanting to add to their play in the next four years, and quite a bit to do with them just being Beautiful Things and me liking having Beautiful Things around us.

I don't know if this makes me by nature un-green, or materialistic, or foolish. Um, or a combination. But I have just spent a happy hour between HERE (Mamakopp's etsy site) and HERE (spectrum wooden toys) looking at things that I will not buy because I don't currently have money for food. But I might just manage to spend my birthday money on them.

Think I'm crazy? Probably spot on there, friends. But I think they're a worthwhile investment. ;) And when those little hands pick up those things I fell in love with, how could a mother not smile?

"Good Girl" aka a rant on reflexive praise

Yup and this is my first rant in ages, so I'm not going to be apologetic about it (much). Having visitors here right now is really tough. A couple of days fine, but a week is wearing long with folks who really need more time and attention than I can currently give.

But one thing beyond all others is driving me crazy. My children keep being *petted*! It's easier to explain to someone that I don't want them to yell at or punish my kids, but I don't think my ban on the word "good" is sinking in. So this morning, I practically threw my copy of Unconditional Parenting at her, and tried to explain. Praise is not just a filler, not just a way of saying, "wow, you exist!" Although right now we seem to be drowning in it with just that intention.

Firstly, my children do not need patting on the head. They need respectfully thanking, they need to be noticed, they need to see and feel that they are loved for who they are. They do not need "reinforcing"! What exactly is added, if a child does something because it pleased them to do it, and we gush and enthuse? They know it was worthwhile, because they have some discernment, and because they usually did it in the first place knowing that it pleased them or was helpful for someone else.

Secondly, patting them on the head is counter-productive. If we WERE doing it hoping that it would make them want to please us more, or do the same again, it DOESN'T WORK. Or not like that, anyway. Their motivation goes down the more rewards we give.

And lastly, "good" is this HUGE, loaded, guilt-inducing, emotional word. Good is a term of moral judgement. Even applied to a moral situation I would argue that calling someone "good" is unhelpful. And the sneakiest little pedantic part of me wants to quote, "No-one is Good except God alone." [Mark 10:18]

Is finding her sister's shoe MORALLY good? It would seem an absurd question in another context. If it isn't morally good, what do we mean calling them "good"? Convenient? Easy to live with? Is that the kind of children we want to raise, with the long term moral implications of an inability to make moral judgement for themselves when they are grown?

Praise your kids, praise them for free, for who they are. Thank them for things that help you. Tell them you noticed. But why "good girl" them half to death?

20 October 2008

And something gorgeous that I really want to win...

http://www.livenlearnnow.com/weblog/2008/09/mama-contest.html

Aside from wanting to share to chance to win something so beautiful - and increase my own chances ;) - this blog is fabulous and the things she has made are amazing! Wow, I want to be able to do that...

Blessed by this, so passing it on. :)

Thanks, Primavera, for finding and sharing this wonderful film.

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=z3WA9iHz5ww&feature=rec-fresh

19 October 2008

More stuff to do when feeling ill

Let the children loose with playsilks. Apparently they are washing clothes.


Let the children loose with felt pens. Yes, they ended up naked but VERY prettily coloured in again. And no I didn't take embarrasing photos. But here is an elf, courtesy of Jenna.


Find a penknife and (keeping it well out of reach of all fingers) whittle and paint some little gnomes from slices of willow (thanks to Em from Green Parent LETs for the branches). :)

Evidence...

...that it is all worth it!





There's a baby in there. *grins*