28 August 2008

Morgan discovers the Joke

A few mornings ago, we were play fighting on our bed, when Morgan spotted Martin's night time cup of juice - placed high out of reach for obvious reasons. She sat right up, pointed, and said, "Joos!" I said, "The juice is all gone, none for Morgan." She repeated, louder, "JOOS!!" I said, "There isn't any, all gone."

We started tickling and playing again, and I pretended to be trying to steal a kiss. She screamed with laugher and crawled away from me, saying, "Kiss all gone!"

* * * * *

On Jenna's birthday Morgan was given some photographs of my mum's dog, Emma. (Yes, I know the dog has the same name as my best friend, it's confusing but we live with it. Morgan calls them both Nemma and she seems happy with that, though we usually try to call the dog Em-dog otherwise Jenna starts getting muddled about who is being spoken of.) Anyhow, Morgan took the photograph, looked at it seriously, and said, "Nemma!" Then she peeped around the living room door, pointed at the genuine article, and said, "Nemma!" again. Then she literally fell to the floor with laughter.

* * * * *

This morning my mum showed up (like she always does at such moments) to find me bewailing the packing and that Jenna seems to have almost no t-shirts that fit her at all. Mum kind of knew that this was causing issues, because she was the first person to realise that Jenna had shot up again and also because I dragged her into no less than three shops yesterday trying to find a 4yo t-shirt that fulfilled my simple criteria.

It must be t-shirt shaped. As opposed to with trendy puffy sleeves and strange adult shaping that can't possibly be worn under a pair of denim dungarees without making Jenna look deformed. It must be non-sexual. As opposed to the slogan things that are somehow still 'in' - "Here's cutie!" and "I'm Daddy's Little Princess" and worse still, "Sex Kitten" (honestly). It must be, in fact, fairly plain (flowers and butterflies, OK, stripes fine, constipated kittens and cartoon characters, not OK). FWIW I can cope with limited amounts of some of the above, but sometimes you just want a plain top, you know?

Well, Grandma to the rescue, she had only gone and found new coats for both girls, and some great stripey and flowery simple tops for Jenna. Morgan tried on her new coat, spread a huge grin across her face, pulled her arms back up into the sleeves, and waggled them at my middle brother - who totally cracked up. She carried on wiggling her empty sleeves at us and saying "ldldldld" for a little while, until she got too hot in fact.

Paul asked how she knew that doing her monster impression would be funny, and Mum replied that it was obvious. She tried it, she liked it, and she has a sense of humour. Admittedly a toddler sense of humour, but nevertheless. :)

26 August 2008

A sweet little sharing...

Morgan was just napping in the comfort corner and woke with a tiny shriek. Jenna rushed over before I could even turn around from the PC, and was huddled over Morgan cuddling her and stroking her gently. "Did you have a scary dream? Is that it? Did you have a nasty scary dream?"

Morgan went back off to sleep, safe in Jenna's arms.

25 August 2008

It's a Yummy Mummy bonanza

At the gym, that is. I can't sit in that cafe without feeling a little intimidated. The children are clean and quiet and sleep in buggies with dummies. The mummies are imaculate, have nice nails and expensive hair cuts, and have somehow found time when changing their lovely curly-haired tots to also re-apply their own makeup.

I am wearing jeans and a t-shirt, usually with some mark of a busy morning (flour, paint, playdoh). My hair hasn't been cut by anyone other than me for YEARS, and if we're going swimming I may be already wearing my swimsuit under my clothes and hence look more lumpy and bumpy than usual. My children are loud. They lean over and chat to the family next to us, and can't possibly use a quiet voice to tell me if they "need a POO". They spread their snack all around. Banana, yum.

But once we get in the pool I stop feeling self-concious as the children are occupying me fully. And they get so many compliments! They are little water babies, they are so thoughtful, they look out for the smaller ones, they play well with groups, they are polite, they are little mermaids. By the time we get to the cafe again I realise that I don't have the monopoly on noise. I've witnessed three tantrums in the changing rooms, and one newborn besides himself while a sibling is being dressed. I see one parent and tot wearing totally different tops to the ones they came in wearing (so THAT'S how they look so clean!).

I mentally adjust. I'm glad to be me, and I'm glad that my rowdy messy kids are MY rowdy messy kids. The Yummy Mummies don't get any bonus points for looking well-dressed and having nice hair cuts. Any more than I get bonus points for having had the playdoh out this morning before we came for our swim. Makeup, no makeup, who cares? I'm me. And I'm doing OK.

24 August 2008

Jenna is four

Jenna's birthday was really lovely and peaceful. She got up in the morning to find a little trail of stars to a birthday crown and her presents, and a table decorated with flowers and a candle for her to blow out. As with much of the rest of the day, I missed the opening of presents because I was being ill in the bathroom. *sigh*

She had a picnic with the pastel tea set from my mum, and otherwise spent most of the morning in playing with her new Ostheimer horses. The first thing she did when she got them was make the baby breastfeed, a proud mummy moment lol. We had a quiet walk, and inevitable ice-cream, and then, because birthday money was burning a hole in her pocket, went Toys R Us.

It may have looked a little like child paradise to her, but it was parent hell to me! Even as a child I remember thinking what an awful lot of rubbish there was - anyway, Jenna seemed to feel the same and apart from regularly saying "wow" at all the glitter and colour, she didn't seem to actually want to look at anything. She chose a pink blanket for her doll, and a pink wooden kitchen set for her doll's house. The only other thing she so much as paid any interest to was a HUGE pink plastic motorised scooter thing, which she was reluctantly removed from so that we could go for our meal with grandparents.

After Jenna with the breastfeeding ponies, the one thing that *really* disturbed me was a mother and baby fuzzy chimp soft toy. Complete with banana-shaped bottle... ???!!??!

Anyhow, meal very nice. Presents from In-Laws surprisingly inappropriate given my strict instructions that we had GOTTEN RID of our plastic toys and didn't want any more - especially since they knew we had bought wooden horses. So what is the point in buying ugly plastic ponies as well? We have put them in the kitchen to see if Jenna asks for them, and so far she hasn't. They did also choose a lovely little green wooden horsebox with rider - and her name on the side. So they do listen - kind of - when it suits them. ;)

She keeps telling me that she isn't a little girl any more, she's a big girl. And things like that. It's lovely that she's so excited about getting older, but I also keep reminding her that she'll always be my baby and it's OK to be small sometimes too if she wants to. I don't want her to be in too much of a rush!

I'm so proud of her, the lovely sweet-natured, funny, serious, crazy, lively, gentle, loving person that she is. She climbs onto the A frame of the swing and stands there head and shoulders above the apple tree. She has to give Morgan a bite of anything nice she is given to eat, without a thought about how much will be left for herself. She grows more beautiful every day.

22 August 2008


...is Jenna's last ever day of being three.

Personally I've not adjusted to being the parent of a three year old yet, so how I'm going to get my head around her being four is anyone's guess. A friend laughed when I confessed this, and said that there is no way she's prepared to be the parent of a teen and yet her oldest turns 13 soon no matter what she thinks about it.

Well, we're going to find some fun things to do and enjoy preparing for birthday treats anyway. :)

20 August 2008

General updates and some more moaning

Ugh - sick sick sick. :( The philosophical, "well I *do* want a baby" approach is no longer working, and the "staying on the sofa with lots of peppermint tea and a big bowl" approach is more appropriate. *sigh*

On monday I was cheered up considerably, by a gift from the lovely homeschooling lady I did the sling demonstration for. She had accepted my usual statement that I don't accept payment for babywearing classes, but ignored me totally and sent me a Lush voucher! I needed to get shampoo etc anyway (all of the expensive things run out at once, it's some kind of universal law) and I was a bit worried that it was going to be a rather larger spend than usual. Well, I got £60 worth of products for £17.50 - thanks to a nice offer on a very expensive moisturiser, some recycling (5 pots taken back = one face mask free) and the voucher from my friend. :)

Today I have been parceling up things to send to expectant friends. Also a satisfying task. Expecially since it represents a couple of hours at the sewing machine in spite of the odds against such activity. *pleased with self*

I have had only one child for short periods over the last few days. Jenna stayed with my mum one night, but when the next day it was Morgan's turn to go without *her*... She ran upstairs in tears and I could hear her jumping on the bed in a total rage saying, "It's not nice if people take people's friends away... She's my baby and I love her... I'm so cross! I'm so sad I might DIE if she doesn't come back! I need my sister... I want my friend back..."

Later she told me that it's OK if Morgan doesn't go with her when SHE goes out, because she's busy so she doesn't miss her. But if Morgan goes out without her then she has to keep remembering and missing her all the time. When they were reuninted they hugged for the longest time before I got a look in, and of course ten minutes later they were arguing over a toy...

18 August 2008

The X Files

Um, so, our chickens have vanished. I mean, not a feather, not a squawk. Vanished.

My first theory was that someone had popped over next door's fence and pinched them. Jenna said she thought they had flown away and gone to live somewhere else. Martin thought they'd been pinched by elderly and stately Mrs Fox or the younger Mr Fox who likes to play on our trampoline.

If someone thought they could eat them then good luck to them. Not for nothing is the stereotype of a "tough old bird". If they flew off I would have expected them to turn up hungry and sheepish after a few hours (well, chicken-ish I guess, but sheepish somehow sounds more guilty-looking). If we'd had a Foxy visitor then where are all the feathers and gore? We've seen what foxes do before. :S

To start with I was just puzzled, and Jenna was just philosophical. Well she's still philosophical ("oh well, we can always get new chickens") and I am devastated! Argh I was really attached to these chickens! They were so calm and good natured, and followed me around in that animal self-centred way when I gardened in case a nice worm came up. They were so funny and they had already survived such a lot.

And the past tense is killing me! *sigh*

17 August 2008

Birthday parties and more compliments *smug*

Jenna's party went wonderfully yesterday.

We decorated the living room really early in the morning so that I wouldn't have to get everything ready on my own (Martin had to work a half day) and when the children came down for breakfast the consensus was "wow"! We had decided not to use any throw-away banners or balloons, so I painted some giant paper lanterns with turquoise fabric paint and lots of tiny pink fish. With Jenna's stuffed fish, and the layered home-made paper fish, and lots of green ribbon "seaweed", I was really pleased with everything! :) Oh, also it cost about £2 in total and can all be reused.

We had come up with lots of co-operative party games, and some craft activities, and a sand "treasure hunt" (like a lucky dip in a sand box). The children all seemed happy, and Jenna was (as usual) revelling in being the centre of attention. ;)

Pictures to follow when I have permission from all the other families involved.

And then of course off we went to our second party of the day, for my youngest brother. The children didn't crash until 10pm on the way home, and were incredibly well behaved all day. *phew* All of the teenage lads were great with them, playing with both girls and letting them talk (and talk and talk). Most of them have no experience of small children at all, so I was in the great parental position of having people come up to me all evening to tell me how capable they are, how smart and funny and clever, how pleasant and polite they are.

Sometimes there is an up-side to the worldview that children are primarily a nuisance, hard work, rude and disobedient. ;)

14 August 2008


For the longest time when she was a toddler, Jenna LOVED spiders. She used to crawl around looking under furniture, calling "py-dee!!" - none ever came to her, strangely.

Until one day, a girl from our street screamed at one in our doorway, and from then on Jenna was deeply terrified any time she saw even the smallest bug. It took months to help her get over it. Mostly by calmly pointing them out any time we saw them, and reacting normally! Children learn a lot by simply watching others, and it seemed to me that supressing my own aversion to moths, for example, might be the only way to restore her sense of confidence with this part of our world.

Now we're back to bug-hunting. Last week, Morgan came to me and spat something out into my hand, and I instinctively screamed and dropped it like an idiot - a little yellow and black stripy caterpillar. My child would NOT survive in the wild... Anyhow, Jenna only laughed at me and although she thought it was "yucky" that Morgan had had it in her mouth, she was not bothered about the bug or my reaction.

Which is just as well, because we have a big spider in the corner of our bathroom. Jenna loves it, and every morning tells me about the progress of the spider. He's moved, he's by the light, oh he's caught a fly today! Mummy, I think this spider might be a girl spider. Isn't she pretty?

Well a couple of days ago we went into the bathroom to get washed and brush our teeth, and Jenna told me off for talking too loudly. "You'll frighten my spider!" That's my girl. :)

13 August 2008

I'm famous! And start of autumn already?

I was walking back from town just now with some heavy shopping (the last few bits for Jenna's party including masses of fresh fruit juice) and had to excuse myself around the queue at the chip shop. I apologised for almost tripping over a lady, who laughed and told me that she didn't mind and was not at all envious of my journey home with all those bags. I joked that at least I wasn't carrying the baby as well, and she said, "Oh, you're the lady who always has the baby strapped to you! You're doing a sterling job there, keep it up love. Your girls are lovely."

Yesterday Jenna and I used up the last of the summer fruits from the freezer, many from our garden, some from my mum's garden (the rhubarb) and some from the farm shop. We made this crumble. Yum.

And I decided on a whim to change the cloth on the Season Table to the Autumnal orange silk, because after all we're rapidly heading towards harvest. We also had a lot of dried seed pods and grasses collected from the garden (and poppy heads from mum's garden that we shook all over our borders before putting in the vase) so it seemed fitting to show them off properly. :)

12 August 2008

Some pictures from over the last couple of days

What we got up to on Sunday afternoon... A picnic at Carsington water, and later, meeting friends to play on the play areas. We also spent some time in the new exhibition - there is an interactive floor where the children had to stomp on the germs to clean up the water. They found it hysterical!

Nursing in the Girasol wrap at the playground. And later, with Morgan asleep. I think I converted a pregnant lady to babywearing at the Birds are Brilliant stand where Jenna did a quiz and got a free magasine.

The girls on one of our walks yesterday; Jenna is swinging Morgan around and they are both giggling. In the corner shop where we went to get milk and bread they stood in the middle of the aisle and sang "Ring a Roses" with actions - Morgan can count "one two three" because of this song, and does so any time I count to get Jenna to come to me! I suspect she knows that it irritates her sister. ;) We also get Morgan sitting down ALL the time in the most inconvenient places, to say "pash" and splash her hands in invisible water...

The blackberry fairy made for Jenna out of craft wool, felt, and a pink bead. She adores it! I can see myself having to make more of these for friends, not to mention the season table possiblities.

What Martin came home to find yesterday evening... I told you I was sleeping all the time!

11 August 2008

Saga of The Wedding

Right, no more excuses about how much I love my dad and his wife, there are enough tales to tell to warrant the telling. What a LONG day though...

We arrived early, wanting to make sure that loading and unloading of small people and slings and bags of toys was not going to be disruptive and generally make us late. That first half hour was wonderful, welcoming people as they arrived and letting the children play. Jenna spent a while sitting up in the pulpit with only her fingers visible over the edge, and when we asked what she was doing we were informed that it was a puppet show without puppets. :)

My grandmother came in and chatted for a moment - she said to Morgan, "Oh you're so big! I haven't seen you since you were one day old... You were such a scrawny baby." I didn't know whether or not it would be acceptable in such circumstances to laugh, so I tried not to.

The service was lovely, but Martin didn't get to see much of it as Morgan wanted to join grandad up at the front and was going to protest in the loudest possible way. Jenna soon followed them out to see what was happening (we could hear little happy shrieks from Morgan every now and again, muffled by the heavy wooden doors). They came back in for the vows, and I noticed that the backs of both children were rather muddy and damp JUST as if they had been sliding down the hill outside... I didn't ask.

When we got through the silent awe part of the ceremony and my dad and his new wife had rejoined us we were meant to be singing a couple of final hymns. Only the effect would have been better if the organist had owned a metronome. I call these cases, "Tune by consensus and tempo by committee." Our own Church is often guilty of these crimes against music, but for my brothers it was a new experience. We stood there, the first two rows, disgracing ourselves by being unable to sing one note between us, shoulders shaking violently. I suspect my dad didn't notice.

There is that moment, in such cases of musical ineptitude as practiced by a large congregation, when a verse ends - a glorious moment of pause while the organist waits for a third of the congregation to finish the verse in their own sweet time. It cracked me up afresh every time. Even better, a friend of my dad was seated a little further back, and from my seat at the end of the row I could see him out of the corner of my eye. Every time a wrong note was played, he whipped his head round to look at the organist in confusion.

More than anything, that one song justified my crappy day and the pain of pretending to be friendly towards family that I really can't stand. It was a wonderful brief period of sibling solidarity, the three of us against the world, in on our own private joke. I've rarely felt so close to my two brothers as just then, at the wedding we were mostly dreading but also hope-against-hoping will work out for the best.

I nursed Morgan for most of the rest of the service. As predicted, nobody noticed and if they had I doubt they would have said anything (after all the only people sitting near enough were also close enough to understand). Then outside we all went, where the rain held off for just long enough and Jenna tore her dress climbing a tree. :)

Now, here comes some of the reason why I dread encounters with my dad's family. My paternal grandmother loves me - I am assured of it any time I dare be sarky in front of my dad. But in the four years I've had children, we have seen her the same number of times. Once to pick up some furniture she was storing for us. Once when Jenna was born and once when she was four months old. Once when Morgan was born. We don't have a car and haven't had for most of that time, yet she drives past our street roughly once a week. Before Jenna was born I can't remember seeing her for years! I've never had much of a relationship with her, except that she used to send me quite a bit of money at birthdays, and that always just to leave me with an odd feeling that she'd rather pay me off than spend time with me.

The rest of that side of the family are much the same. My own wedding was attended unwillingly, by a delegation in jeans who didn't actually come all the way in to the building and didn't hang around afterwards. I realised at dad's wedding this weekend that some of the family don't even know I have children! This is a relevation to me, that my pregnancy was obviously well hushed up in that circle. I'm quite shocked, but I can't say why.

After photographs, interminably, and getting a short but pleasant moment to congratulate my dad and the gorgeous and beaming Christine, we took my youngest brother to get some money. When we got to the reception, we found the place packed and no seats saved - so between Jay, Martin, myself, and two girls, we had two seats. Nice. Balancing plates and children, with the latter running off as often as we could be persuaded to put them down, we had a pretty stressful afternoon. Along with trying to find small talk for several more relatives.

I think part of my problem is that I am just not good at forced mingling. I'm too prone to say what I really think, and to cause arguments by doing so. Take, for example, a guy in the queue for food. He noted that my husband seemed to be the one running after the baby all of the time. I tried the polite smile and joked that they are just as much his children. Then, caution to the wind, I sneakily dropped in, "If I go to her she'll only want feeding." For a moment the guy didn't get it, and then looked horrified (exactly the response I expected and couldn't resist provoking). He said, "Oh no, you couldn't do that in here. Your husband would be so embarrased!"

My sister in law intervened (oh Maarja you are a STAR) and backed me up with a sweet smile and the phrase, "If they're hungry, you feed them." :) I don't think she realised that I was having a moment of existential horror at being in this crazy world with these crazy people, but she saved me from it with her act of gentle friendship.

And there we pretty much are. We left early, feeling slightly guilty as we did so, because the children were tired out and so were we! I feel both hopeful that the manifest affection between the newly-weds might be enough, and desperately sad for the plain wierd world that my relatives inhabit, and also insanely blessed and contented with the closeness between those of us who value closeness.

Another wedding and more excuses

My dad was married on Saturday, and if this comes as a surprise to many friends it's because sometimes it's easier to say nothing at all than to risk saying something unpleasant. They are both lovely people, and whatever I may think about their motives for marrying I wish them well. And so I have little to say apart from to mention that there were no seats for us at the reception. We therefore spent most of the rest of a day, thus far used in being exhaustively nice to distant family, trying to get the children to stay on our knees long enough for us to eat something....

More thoughts perhaps another time. ;)

On to the excuses again. I'm still falling asleep here there and everywhere. And I'm now officially sick. As usual. Which makes me both insanely jealous of those who enjoy being pregnant, and also generally just miserable. I'm sorry, I can't see it as a good sign - I've had hyperemesis with all 5 previous pregnancies too...

Here are two of the pictures of the girls and I ready to go on Saturday though. The hippy skirt I made myself, and the tot dresses were charity sale bargains, at a combined cost of £2. So many people asked where we got them from, it made me feel rather smug. ;)

8 August 2008

Want or need?

I've been thinking quite a bit about the difference between needs and wants - for Morgan that is. She's quite small, and even if she could talk I doubt she sees any difference in those things that she intensely and immediately desires for good reasons or not. Is there even such a thing as a bad reason in such a small child?

I'm actually convinced that when young we are so in tune with ourselves and our desires that "need" or "want" are pretty arbitrary, and that all of the wants are for things that are wholey healthy for us.

But even when older, the want for an ice-cream can be so intense, so really felt, that saying, "You don't really need it!" is just an excercise in frustration. Why bother? As far as Jenna is concerned, she needs an ice-cream. That doesn't mean I have to give her one, but it means giving myself an excuse by saying it isn't important is not helpful - the only person it isn't important to is me!

A similar thing happens when we try to disect the motives of a small baby. Does she NEED another feed when she had one fifteen minutes ago? Well she probably isn't going to die if she doesn't get one (a discussion about how delaying feeds can lead to insufficient milk supply is for another time I guess) but why is the fact that she only "wants" it a reason to deny it? Must we deny things that are good for our children just because we have decided to break down levels of need and decided that what matters to them doesn't matter to us?

More importantly, this kind of thinking (I call it the "only comfort sucking" mentality) desensitises us to the reality of the nature of small children. It tells us that the categories we give their feelings are not only TRUE (ie correspond to how they are really feeling, their true motives) but also give us the power to decide what is authentic and what is not. Rather than listening in the present moment, weighing up who needs/wants/desires what, and how everyone can get what they need as soon as possible, we try to convince ourselves that some needs aren't really the same and therefore don't need weighing up. It is a way of saying, at a deeper level, that only our perception is the valid one and that our children don't have authentic feelings.

So, I'm reminding myself, as I have said before to parents of newborn babies struggling with frequent feedings; You are not only filling their tummies. You are restoring their sense of rightness, giving them back their connection, and filling their cups with love until it runs over.

There are other reasons not to try to separate motives and just assume positive intent, and other circumstances to do it in.

They NEED to touch the sharp knife (although they may not be allowed, or they may be shown how to hold it right, or they may only be allowed to do so in the kitchen when at the surface). They NEED to sing that ridiculous LALALALALA noise for a while to get some of that energy out and experiment with their voices (though they may have to go outside to do it or do it after I've finished my page)!

They even need sometimes to do those things that really aren't ever OK with us - punching and kicking and throwing themselves on the floor. I think lashing out at something is that ancient fight-or-flight adrenaline rush coming into play. *I* tend to want to hit something when I feel out of control and threatened, but I've found I can focus that into drawing or writing instead. Hitting pillows didn't do it for me. ;)

I think Jenna must take after me in that respect. Yesterday she punched the radiator when I told her she needed to do something she didn't want to. I asked her if she was angry, and if she wanted something safer to hit and she said, "No, I'm cross and I want to break something. I need to hit something HARD." So I suggested that the floor could probably take it better than the radiator, and she lay down on her front and pounded on the floor for a minute, which actually started her off giggling....

If there is one need/want/desire that I would like to think I always always respond to, it's the need to be heard, concretely definately loved. Anything else there might be times where, in order to take care of myself, I might not give - at least immediately in the way expected. But listening and validating someone comes so cheap, and is in many ways the greatest gift that you can give.

Yesterday was a long, frustrating, trying day. So today we start again, with the right goals in front of us. Live in the present moment, think before you speak, don't sweat the small stuff, take the feelings of others seriously and assume positive intent...

7 August 2008

Lots of unconnected stuff

Firstly, my excuses for being absent. I am so TIRED. In fact, if it weren't for the two small people waking me up to inconsiderately demand food and drinks and stories and walks to the park and more food, I'd happily be sleeping all day.

I didn't get to sleep at all yesterday, for both much worse and much better reasons. The worse reasons are that I have all-day-miserable-sickness again! Yipee! The better reason was that my mum took us out for a bit to prevent the tiredness and sickness resulting in me screaming at the children to JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!! We discovered this place - Croots Farm Shop and Cafe. :) So of course I did a bit of shopping, local sources of organic/freedom food being somewhat of a classic weakness of the Eco-Geek.

Morgan is still not sleeping so well, but she has consented to settle for Daddy and shockingly has even been cuddled to sleep twice by me in the last two days without nursing. At all. :o Anyway, she's gorgeous, and there are times when you can forgive them any ammount of lack of sleep. This was one of them...

We finally worked out why the chicken feed hadn't turned up too, as we got an automated email to our enquiry about why they'd taken our payment and not delivered our sack of layers' feed: The shop is closed until September. Which I did NOT see any sign of on the website. My poor hungry chickens! I spent my last pennies on ebay buying a small bag to tide us over until we can find a petshop or farm that will supply more for this month!

Lastly, to go with my brag about how grown up Jenna is (and how smart), a gorgeous picture of her the day before yesterday. She had given up nagging me for a drink (I was nursing Morgan, as I always seem to be when Jenna needs something!) and so she had gone to sulk in the comfort corner, where she promptly fell asleep.

5 August 2008

A complaint

Miss baby Morgan, I need some sleep. Waking up at 1am is OK. Spending the rest of the night attached to me, crying when my pregnant bladder forces me to get up and pay the bathroom a visit, and holding on to the breast as if you will never get another chance at it again, is NOT OK.

I cannot lay on one side for six hours. I cannot survive on so little rest. Whatever it is that is waking you up, I really wish you could tell me about it in a way I understand because I am not doing very well at being available to you so much of the night.

I am getting bad-tempered - you may have noticed. You are up to THREE nights of this now, and I'm sure you must be practically swimming in mummy-milk.

Signed, your very tired and not very pleasant Mummy.

4 August 2008

A totally shameless brag on Jenna

OK so first things first, the flowers she picked for me. :) Mushy motherly feelings abound.

This morning she went out for a swim with my mum, and had her (increasingly rare) dance class. Actually they both did, and I had a mega-cleaning session which is really very unlike me. I have that total pregnancy exhaustion thing, but also in between feeling like I need to sleep for the next 24 hours, short but massive bursts of energy. When the girls got back, this is what Jenna did.

She asked me twice for the "matching piece" and I found it for her, but the rest she did herself. She intuitively understands these cards, and after a few minutes of placing them in random order she started to see how to use them together. Unschooling math again, anyone?

Lots of smiles

My new slings arrived! Here you can see my gorgeous new Nino Aqua, with Morgan asleep in a back wrap.

We've had another lovely weekend. I am feeling full up with love and with quiet times with my children and with Martin. After Church we did a bug hunt all the way to Emma and Chris's house, where we had lunch and spent some time in their garden with them. Hey, why am I telling you? I have some great pictures...

And my mum popped round late on Sunday with some flowers that Jenna had picked in her garden for me, and forgotten to bring home yesterday. :)

3 August 2008

On being a hippy

I have given up. Why fight it? I love tie dye and sari fabrics and retro florals and making things from scratch and getting back to the garden (so to speak).

When I first became a parent, I was 19. That means I automatically got that label, "teen mum". Without going into the rights and wrongs of labelling people or the rights and wrongs of looking down on young parents, the label really sucked. It made me hyper-aware and fearful of conforming to the stereotype. It made me really feel I had to be a certain way, had to proove myself. Maybe all that worked out to the good, but it was quite a heavy burden to put on someone just figuring things out with a newborn!

I was so determined to be taken seriously I took to dressing more conservatively for a while. I was afraid of looking student-y and irresponsible. I worried about buying and making plain slings, and not wanting to wear tracksuit tops (even though they were comfy post-pregnancy), and stopping dying my hair. I avoided tie-dye.
But I LIKE tie-dye. And henna does not a hippy make. When it comes down to it neither does natural living or gentle parenting! What the original hippies would make of me is anyone's guess...

Well, today I re-did my henna, and finished my sari-dress, and I finally put a part of that to rest. To be frank, I have decided that if breastfeeding and babywearing and keeping chickens make me a hippy, so be it. I'll look like what I want to look like, live in line with my beliefs, and not give a damn about what anyone thinks of that. I'm not defined by what I wear. I'm not defined by what I do. What I am is more than that.

See the red wax-explosion candle? Jenna made that on friday! :)

2 August 2008

Candles and Lammas evening

We ate our sheaf loaf and said our prayers of thanks around a bowl of flowers picked from the garden, floating on a little pond along with Jenna's floating candles. The girls are always more ready to volunteer a prayer or something they want to talk about over twinkling candle lights - I think excluding children from understanding the rituals of Church is a big mistake. In our Church tradition the girls are not allowed to take communion until after they have been confirmed (we haven't had them baptised in the first place so, another quirk of some Anglican traditions, they would be baptised and confirmed at the same time if they so chose when older).

At home we break bread together, and once a year share what we think of as "real" communion - the Seder meal to celebrate passover. I guess at our Church we're thought of as quirky, even by some to be bordering on the sacreligious. Why shouldn't my children stay in the service and chatter through it quietly? Enough of the grown-ups interrupt the service from time to time and are tolerated. ;) Why shouldn't they take communion as solemnly as children can, understanding it at the level they accept everything at? Assuming that their understanding is any worse than most adult communicants is probably also a grave mistake.

Anyhow anyhow, the significance of some special times set aside for expressing thankfulness we should feel all year round is certainly not beyond them.

Morgan has about twenty new words this week - this afternoon she noticed that I haven't wiped up all the flour from our bread making and said, "Oh NO! Dordy! Dordy!" Yes Morgan, dirty! She makes me giggle, she's such a little stress-head about mess and I have no idea where she gets it from... ;)


The new moon brings the Hebrew month of Tanmuz, the month of grief, and I have been inspired to write about the season I'm in emotionally and spiritually. I've written a bit lately about feeling the need to let go of my feelings of control and my wish to know what's going to happen. Well yesterday I read this wonderful passage again:

22 And he said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat, nor about your body, what you shall put on.
23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.
24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!
25 And which of you by being anxious can add a cubit to his span of life?
26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?
27 Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
28 But if God so clothes the grass which is alive in the field today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O men of little faith!
29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be of anxious mind.
30 For all the nations of the world seek these things; and your Father knows that you need them.

So, in a month dedicated to remembering sorrow but dwelling on the comforting love and provision of God in those times, I am resting. I have felt like I have here a very significant turning point for me in feeling like I can let go of my control over this pregnancy. I feel like I'm on the edge of something, like I can commit to accepting a different way, trusting (not passively but actively) that all things will work for the good - or I can carry on making myself miserable by hanging on to what I can't change...

We're also coming up to preparing for the High Holy days, the Jewish new year. The next new moon will start the time of preparation for a new letting go of the past and instead dwelling on forgiveness and my response to that. There is real significance for me here, in this moment, to seek to BE rather than DO. I hope that will show itself in spending more time being creative and loving with the children, and less time trying to rush to somewhere I didn't need to be, or make the children do something because I haven't looked at it from their perspective.

Apologies as ever to those who didn't ask for the essay on faith, and also to those who have read some of these thoughts elsewhere. ;)

1 August 2008

More painting, party invites, and Lammas bread

Yesterday I totally overdid it again, and walked most of the six mile round trip to my client and back - visiting a sari shop on the way home to get some fabric for a gorgeous hippy skirt. I was shattered (and had blistered BOTH feet by wearing sandals, I should know better by now honestly) and didn't even manage to cook in the evening. Another admission; we eat takeaway! ;)

Today has been much more restful. Both children came back wearing a collection of bruises and scabs, from bike riding and tripping over their own and each others' feet. Thankfully this time Morgan did NOT come back in a chemical nappy, since I had words with FIL about sending back a full bag of clean nappies with her each week. I mean, we don't send cloth with her for fun, and they are stuffables so are exactly the same to put on as a sposie anyway!

We have painted our hands and feet to make prints (most frequently requested activity from Jenna age three). Today Morgan helped to paint her sister, as well as getting nice and painty herself (in this picture my brother and his wife have come a-visiting from their home in Estonia and kindly taken the tiny for a bath).

We made birthday party invites using the blow painting method, and glittery fish using the PVA-and-a-tray method. PVA and glitter features a lot in my home, for obvious reasons. Mess + sparkle, it's practically a Sarah manifesto...

And we made a Lammas loaf, inspired by Liz. I used to make bread with my mum as a child all the time, and enjoy it more than ever now with my own children! We often make shapes, and also usually make plaited challah on a friday for Sabbath. Making the old-fashioned sheaf was fun! :)

We made some candles too but I didn't take any pictures of them yet. And now the girls are running around in the garden, eating soil, chasing the chickens, generally being gorgeous. I'm feeling very blessed. Doing some bits and pieces to celebrate Lammas (though we already had the Jewish Firstfruits) really helped to remind me of all of those things I take for granted. The tomatoes ripening on their bushes are calling me to join the children in the garden and appreciate it all...