31 October 2009

Retail therapy-ish

Having a car still feels wierd to me, especially having Martin home to DRIVE the car, I am so used to planning journeys around what can be carried for small children, or where the busses go! The thing is, I'm really resenting using the car all the time, but on the other hand I know it is just me being silly when I want to catch a bus into town knowing the entire journey will cost us all £9 and parking all day costs £5. :(

Anyhow, we have discovered that there are two great little shops about a fifteen minute drive into the peak district, about as far as we ever travel in the normal run of things. The bus to get there takes about an hour, so I would very very rarely attempt it without Martin (I've done that trip twice in four years with children!) but suddenly it's within reach. So we weigh up, non-ecover (and therefore vegan society approved) washing stuff that does refills and doesn't itch my children, but we have to drive to get it.

The draw of really good traidcraft/gift/homeware/hippy clothes shops is strong though - especially since I promised myself that I WILL buy clothes I like and not whatever fits me from charity shops. My previous approach worked, I mean, I had clothes to wear, but I've ended up with lots of things that I don't like at all just in order to not buy junk and keep myself in clothes. I still only have one pair of jeans, which I wear daily! But eventually I have to give in and stop worrying about buying for myself.

So when Leanne arrived yesterday, we went looking for a coat for me. And came home with a coat for Martin.

Well, at least I tried.

30 October 2009


It's so easy to define parenting as a list of Good Stuff we can DO for (and sometimes to) our children. When I think about how I parent, what I choose to do, it sometimes is easy to feel smug about a list of things I'm doing the way I believe to be Good and Right. When I remember that it's about the relationship, and look at all the ways I relate to my children, I usually feel rather humbled.

A couple of weeks ago I was at a parent and baby group, one I have rarely ever been to. I really rather enjoyed it, as a casual visitor I felt welcomed and the babies were all lovely. It has been so long since I've been to a baby group though, and I'd forgotten all of the comparing. Not that I'm immune to it, just that I notice it nowadays!

It began with "bedtimes". Almost competitive: whose baby goes to bed earliest, who gets the most quality time alone before baby wakes, whose baby sleeps through and for how long, whose baby still gets up at silly o'clock. I think for a moment, and realise that I don't KNOW all of this parent trivia. At five years old, Jenna still has no set bedtime - that's what suits us. She is usually tired and ready for a story and sleep between 7pm and 9pm.

What times are mealtimes? Does baby eat "all" of their dinner? How much? How much milk?

After an hour I went home quiet and thoughtful. I suppose it re-occured to me that when I say "attachment parenting" everyone is looking for (and may even find) another list. Another way to measure parenting success (apart from the obvious - I'll paraphrase Liz here, that I want my children to be healthy, happy and curious). But what I'm actually doing is un-parenting. Refraining from doing what can be done by nature. Stepping back and letting go.

It's less babywearing, and more leaving baby where she is until she wants to be somewhere else. It's less co-sleeping and more staying in touch because we're not ready to choose otherwise. I'm not choosing to breastfeed, I'm just not choosing to use a bottle. I'm taking the path of least resistance, trusting my children, meeting needs, doing what I feel I must, staying connected and available, not adding all of this other "stuff that needs doing to my children" and all of these expectations.

Maybe I'm just being lazy! And that is a style of parenting I feel I can live up to.

29 October 2009

Unconventional co-sleepers

My two smallest have been very funny co-sleepers recently. Morgan often starts the night out in our bed, or finishes it there, even though she isn't really co-sleeping fully anymore. Anyhow, Morgan's favorite co-sleeping position is on the end besides Martin, with her arms wrapped around his head. I may have made mention of this habit before.

If there is no adult to wrap yourself around however, a penguin will do.The smallest seems to have found a new place. Remember the only-sleeping-latched-on? Well one night last week I was so thoroughly fed up I dumped her unceremoniously out of reach of her milk, halfway down the bed on her back on top of the covers, neatly between Martin's and my legs. She rolled onto her side, sighed, and slept for five hours. The next night I did the same, nursed her until I felt like screaming, then moved her down the bed, where she settled off peacefully to sleep five hours. Last night, she put herself there.Well, wouldn't the world be a boring place if we were all alike?

28 October 2009


Yesterday we went to Pickford House museum and met a lot of friends there (some even unexpectedly) - crafts were involved, which the girls were very happy about, though Morgan used so much glue hers still isn't dry.

Chris and Connor were trying out their new Mei Tai, and we happened to be using one of ours too.The matching hats were courtesy of the lovely Ashleigh, who made more knitted goodness for all of my little people!And quite a few of us came home to have Chinese, talk until late, and collectively nurse our babies.There is always something to do around here, and for once I have very little to say about it. It is beyond all value to have good friends and to spend a day touching in and catching up. We share our lives with such wonderful people.

27 October 2009

Divali assortment

I know some folk of any given faith prefer to protect their children from the idea that other people believe differently to them, but that's not for me. I think my children are perfectly able to understand that although I believe that I have found The Truth, I trust them to come to their own conclusions and I have neither inclination or authority to condemn anyone who disagrees with me.

That I feel I have to say all that at all, here where most folks know what I believe and also that I have no desire to rant at anyone about it no matter how passionately I believe it, has much to do with this Sunday and some Church Politics Stuff which makes me frankly want to run for the hills.

On to happier things, before I start to put people off Anglicanism. ;)

We have been doing some crafts and stories and stuff surrounding the recent Divali celebrations. I want the children to have a good idea where other people are coming from, and to value and respect the traditions of others. Although I have no intention of attemptiong to totally replicate (or in fact practice) other faiths, I'd like to give the girls a view of what is out there and an impression of a culture outside our own. That sounds totally pretentious. Ah well, it stands, because it's true and I mean well and I hope it works!

There were more photos than this, but these are what I can find. We made little oil lamps, and didn't put oil in them because I thought the paint might possibly be flamable.We did sand and coloured salt rangali (on paper) and put them in our doorways to welcome visitors.We made indian food, tried on a sari, and of course the henna came out again. I wish I could find those pictures, must have had upload issues! The pictures of our home-made shadow puppets didn't work at all, but the puppets themselves were fun. We used them to tell the story of Rama and Sita, and lit a trail of candles to show them the way home. Jenna made decorations from glittery pipe cleaners, without any such suggestions from me!

26 October 2009

Days like these

I really am enjoying the craziness very much suddenly. The lethargy has passed, and although I'm still tired and emotional, I'm also itching to DO and to be more available to the littles for play and madness. I have gone from impatient over silly things, to laughing at everything and being very slow to snap, seemingly overnight.

PJs and yoga and early morning madness.Two big girls making soup together for our lunch. Jenna decided what should go in, and when she ran out of things to chop up Morgan handed over something from her selection of softer things. Turns were taken for stirring too. They are just so generous and gentle to each other.Green smoothies. The carseat does make a perfect child-size temporary armchair and I'm finding it both affirming and hilarious how they bargain for a turn! Rowan is eating bites here and there, hardly swallowing anything still, but she does go mad when she sees a straw because she LOVES green smoothie. I worry about rationing it so she leaves plenty of room for milk. Of course, nothing puts this baby off her milk.Things, in short, are gloriously good today. :)

Book Sharing Monday: Penguin

A library favorite, I think we'll have to get this one eventually.Simple, lovely toddler friendly, and the lion usually gets a laugh from Morgan anyway. ;) Ben really really wants Penguin to talk to him. But Penguin says nothing.Of course, there isn't really that much suspense involved. The parents will have guessed the ending before they start reading. But still, those last illustrations are very sweet.

24 October 2009

PJs and more park play

Presents from a friend, chosen with such kindness and a great eye - they fit perfectly and are JUST the right choices for two happy little girlies (very warm little girlies now too). As soon as we got home, they both insisted it was pyjama time.Another day at the park, with folks from Green Parent. We were drenched by the time we got home but it was worth it! Plus we had the park practically to ourselves as everyone else seems rain-adverse. Most of Markeaton was carpeted in yellow leaves, and it IS the best park for playing hide and seek with all of those ready made fairy houses/pirate hideouts in the bushes.Then of course another trip to meet Emma and Chris and Connor on their local park! We like parks at this time of year when everyone else is back at school or hiding from the weather. I think our waterproofing is up to at least another few weeks of regular trips to the swings and leaf-piles... Anyhow, Connor nursed the whole time we were out, which was so lovely to see and must have been pretty encouraging for Em. Just those little panics waiting for letdown, howling at the breast before he realises that the milk is there after all. He has such an amazing voice!

Back to another quiet day today pretty much. We are doing housework but also creating mess at the same time. Today has so far included stories, dominoes, mandala cards, tree blocks, indoor skittles, painting, and beeswax models. These are Jenna's snail and Morgan's frog.Though the others have all been out a bit - Martin made a Guy with the girls at Dad's group first thing and they did a quick circuit of the block for mum's dog who is staying for a few days.

Most common thing said to me by strangers: You must have your hands full.

Most common thing said to me by strangers when they find out that Jenna isn't in school because we're homeschooling: Wow that must be a lot of work for you.

Um no. And also yes. And, hmm, how on earth is anyone supposed to answer that?

We live a full and happy life together. If that's work, it's also joyful and exhilarating work, and if it is also slightly crazy I wouldn't have it any other way.

23 October 2009

Computer troubles and other such updates

Never far away, I'm afraid. We keep saying we'll replace the blasted thing but chances of that are slim for now. If anyone knows what would cause the entire machie to basically operate side-on to the world... THe mouse directions are reversed, the monitor displays everything perfectly, just rotated 45 degrees.

On the job front somthing is still looking hopeful, which we are trying not to set too much store by. This may be because I am reluctant to admit that I am really enjoying him not working and am worried that this temporary lift is soley down to not being on my own and that when he gets another job I will sink back into depression again.

It is not at all easy typing and seeing the words displayed from top to bottom. I'm getting a crick in my neck.

In other news we had a lovely walk with folks from Green Parent, Markeaton is glorious in a thick coating of yellow leaves. We found chestnuts of the eating variety which more than makes up for the conker shortage this year. I would attempt pictures but I'm sure my sideways computer skills are not up to all that...

And I was really organised, and made sure we had food shopping in for nearly two weeks, assuming that as usual the probability of benefits payments being late or non-existant is high. But then realised that my organisation hadn't stretched to thinking about food for lunches, so it is home-made bread and jam or nothing around here. Fingers crossed everything goes smoothly so we can pay out bills and remember the variety of things that can be eaten in the middle of the day...

Oh, and Connor is doing really well, nursing properly for the vast majority of feeds (coaxed by a bottle held nearby). Such an amazing amount of progress from a week ago when one feed a day was pushing it. Emma and Chris are working so hard for this, and emotionally it's so draining for them all. All prayers appreciated. Once more I feel so blessed to hold my own pudgy little nursling. Even though she's teething and if I forget the nursing necklace after bathing she BITES.

22 October 2009

The little things

Still not much sleep. A little more, which helps, but not much more - which leaves me feeling even more fuzzy around the edges. Oh and an eye infection too (the joy) which is so far being treated with ebm (at least there's plenty of that)...

Still no employment for Martin. Something sounding hopeful for a great deal more pay than previously, but the hopeful tone came from someone who then emailed four times to ask questions that were answered on the CV...

But then there are these short perfect moments in every day when I'm not fighting myself to be nice to them. The overheard play and the moments when I realise it's OK to just let go and not keep spoiling their fun with instructions. The little things, a quick note from a friend, a hug from another. Tea cooked by someone else and company and board games until nearly midnight. A mug of organic three mint tea made without asking by my lovely husband.

And I am thankful.

20 October 2009

Variations on the Word "Sleep"

The way these things change day to day. One night she sleeps so long, the next we have had a different day and her nighttime need is different. Five hours, or two hour intervals with long feeds between. But her need is real.

I recall that with each of them a big step forward in daytime learning has signalled an increased need for me in the wee small hours. It takes me a few days of cursing the lack of sleep to recall this, that it is normal and OK and that I have lived through it before.

Perhaps the feeling I might die from lack of sleep has something else to teach me, something more character building that the stoic insistance on continuing to meet the needs as long as I am physically able, and often beyond what I thought was possible for me. Perhaps. I might be able to see it if I wasn't so tired!

Also one of my favorite poems ("I would like to sleep/with you, to enter/your sleep as its smooth dark wave/slides over my head...I would like to be the air/that inhabits you for a moment/only. I would like to be that unnoticed/& that necessary." - Margaret Atwood).

I do love to watch her sleeping. The rise and fall of her little chest and the translucent lilac of her eyelids, twitching. A balled up fist of pudgy pink fingers and a fuzz of hair. She is perfect. And I feel so close to her in the darkness.

This parenting is a contradiction and an impossible joy. Being needed this intensely terrifies me, I don't allow such closeness easily. Perhaps I'm the last person on Earth likely to fall into attachment parenting. But here I am.

19 October 2009

Awe and Wonder

Have I ever happened to mention that I love Autumn?

Book Sharing Monday: The Glass Heart

Yet again chosen by Jenna, who loves pastel illustrations, pink, princesses, and sweetly happy endings. As princess stories go, I like this one.What is cracked and mended can still be beautiful, useful, and last a lifetime. And princesses with glass hearts might be better off waiting for a man who is good with glass, even if he isn't a prince.

16 October 2009

To Do list

My list is full of Important Things. Plans. Tasks.

They don't have a list. They just have joy.