29 July 2011


Soo... Recognise this place? (I honestly barely do, I walk in and think "wow" every time!)
The toy shelves have even been tidied up a bit more since this picture. Pretty, isn't it? :)

This is how I moved around this side of the room...
And this is the other side, huge second hand chair with the home-ed shelves behind, I love this room how it is now. Bonus to all the cleaning, the way around everything is means no shifting furniture to make space for the birth pool!
The boiler is going to be replaced (one of those times I'm really glad we're tenants!) and some of the radiators are being done at the same time - next week in fact - and that feels like one more little bit of the puzzle because it means we'll actually have hot water on demand for the first time ever. Could this be our first home birth without poor hubby boiling pans of water on the stove?!

The spare room is another one of the finished spaces. The girl's tiny room is lovely but hard to take pictures of since there is almost zero space in there (don't ask me why all three like to sleep together in the smallest space in the house)! And our room is also done - except for the neverending laundry which I am STILL sorting.
Oh, also, baby knitting in in full swing. Not all knitting for my baby - but this hat is. :)
Martin had two interviews yesterday and one promised to phone him by lunch time today. Nothing yet. Please keep us in your prayers, this has been such a hard confusing time for him and I am feeling so anxious about how things might be come winter-time.

To do list for today: encourage children (five of them today) into garden for as long as possible, finish sorting laundry, clean top of wardrobe in my room, knit some more, reorganise toy shelves, persuade hubby to clean kitchen floor for me, provide about a billion snacks to aformentioned pack of wild children!

24 July 2011

A couple more Normal Days

So full of little moments, projects, ideas, quiet times and lively, busy and restful... Jenna and Morgan carefully constructed a bird hide with some chairs and tarpaulin.
Rowan played pirates and castles at the same time. It involves saying, "ARRR" a lot, and making the wooden people talk to each other in her hilarious baby talk.
We spent some time in the garden, mostly watching the bright poisonous Cinnabar caterpillars, finding spiders in the compost, and hanging off the swing set. Jenna watched some gymnasts on youtube, and then freaked us out slightly for a few hours chalking her hands up with pink chalk dust before trying to swing all the way over the top bar.

The children made a lot of castles from bricks, which Rowan and Connor mostly knocked over. Morgan drew lots of her lovely little people on the chalk board.
Martin and I cleaned the living room top to bottom and used a hired carpet cleaner on the grubby carpets. They are blue again! And gosh, how much space we have, and how much of my crazy nesting list of jobs has been ticked off already. I'm very nearly done with tackling the dining area and computer desk too.

This is what happens when you have just spent all day cleaning, and two toddlers get the run of the toy shelves...
And I made playdough yesterday too. Surgical-appliance pink, unfortunately, but enjoyed nevertheless. Even by a Very Patient Jenna who kept having her neat little baked goods mushed up by the babies.

22 July 2011

Some knitting and homely stuff

I finally stopped complaining that I couldn't decide what to do, and picked up some knitting again. I finished this pixie hat for Minnow already, it was a quick easy knit, I just didn't get around to taking a picture of the finished article yet.
As you can see, it forced me to actually do some ribbing (which I usually mess up). I also finally put buttons on another cardi for Rowan. Although she managed to pull one of the buttons off again by the end of the day, which will teach me to do such things in a rush before going out!
Crazy nesting is still happening. A broken chair has been finally thrown out after many many attempts to mend it enough to stop it collapsing. We will even have the money to replace it, since an accountant from a local church helped us find that our benefits have been hugely underpaid and we are owed a backpayment now!

The computer desk is the next thing that needs dealing with, it is such a junk-hoarding area for me, with all my craft things. I also got a load more laundry done. The chaos in this house is neverending!
Our electrics shorted out several times yesterday, distressingly, and we were convinced that it was happening every time we plugged the laptop in to charge. *PLEASE* let it not be the laptop! Anyhow, we discovered in the evening that Connor had poured a cup of mint tea into the charger cable, which has now dried out just fine! *phew*

20 July 2011

Very nearly nothing to say!

Another really normal week pretty much.
Some hormonal tears over not-very-much. Lots more energy now that Rowan is sleeping at night again. The discovery of Yeo Valley icecream, which helped with the hormones in the short term. ;) And more bump pictures.
It all seems so important at the time, and reporting it back feels flat and strange today. Our life is getting some rhythm back, and I'm feeling pretty normal, and the children are thriving and healthful and beautiful. Even Martin (still job hunting) is less stressed and more contented.
Today was the first time I've been to the sling meet in ages and ages, and it was lovely and easy and comfortable. Then we grabbed pitta and dip and olives in the wholefoods store, a load of cartons of juice, and some nice crisps. We sat and ate our picnic in the middle of town, and shared some with a stranger too. Rowan chased pigeons and I chased Rowan, and we debated what she'd actually do if she ever caught one.

We went swimming too. Rowan's lips turned blue. Morgan took f.o.r.e.v.e.r to get dressed, until I got sick of the sound of my own voice and put her shoes and socks on for her myself. I gave the locker money to the girls to spend in the vending machines (something I don't think any of them have *ever* been allowed to do before) and they chose fairtrade chocolate - and coca cola! "Because I was helpful!" said Morgan when I gave her the coin. "Well," I said, "NOT helpful exactly, but I do love you!"

Well, that's my life this week. As I say, wonderfully blissfully normal. And filled with people and life and randomness and colour. :)

17 July 2011

Stuck in my head today...

God's Grandeur

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs --
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

[Gerard Manley Hopkins]

16 July 2011

Nature Walk

Yes, I have Monkey Children. :)
Do you remember how, when you were little, you could *almost* fly?
These bright eyes are entertained for hours by "quack quacks" and "squee-uls"!
And mama's eyes have been longing for a good bit of Green-ness. The light in this place is beautiful, the shapes astonishing. This mossy stone kept my camera busy for a good while, until I could get just a bit of it properly in focus!
My feet are rapidly being obscured by a little someone.
Isn't this world beautiful?

15 July 2011


The children are spending most of every day outside right now. And Martin being at home meant the hedge finally got its summer trim (now that the nests have fledged!) so the girls spent two days making nests and generally flinging the trimmings around until we got it all picked up.
The broccoli is coming on, the first courgettes are getting fatter, and the peas are delicious and not *quite* over yet. No sign of what happened to my poor little garlic plants though...
Oh yes, and the potatoes are *just* about to flower!
The garden is a complete jungle. I keep having to remind myself that I wanted it to be like that, and that each year it gets a little more productive in spite of the chaos, and that nettles and dandylions are much-maligned and under-used food sources. ;) The willow tree though, oh how happy I am that it is nearly big enough to climb! :)

The main current garden game though, is constructing elaborate rickety "playground" thingies. Part of me thinks it's such a healthy, fun, normal thing to make junkyard towers in the garden, climb them, fall off, rebuild in a different way. Part of me thinks that planks and old wardrobe doors and a stepladder and bits of rope are ideal toys, and that the world is totally crazy for not agreeing with me and letting all kids loose with tools and torn trousers and bloody knees and a sense of real adventure.
Part of me quakes at the thought of how many near misses they have in this healthy play. Part of me tries hard not to keep looking, or I'd want to go out there and make it all safe and nice and give them a talking to about safety.

In the Good Mummy stakes, I felt muffins for breakfast were a small gesture of apology for being out of action for so long. ;)
We have been actually Doing Things together this week. It's so nice. I mean, it's also nice that they have all got pretty good at occupying themselves while I've been really ill. But now it's nice to play cruise director just a *little* bit and suggest fun things and actually carry them through. This is the big ones making a map of fairy land. Rowan spent the entire time emptying glitter onto the carpet, her sisters, her feet... Martin chased. I supplied bits of collage material from my posessively hoarded crafting box. :)
We did watercolour painting another day. I could pick out which child did which with barely a moment's glance, they say such a lot about the girls and their approach to making art!
Yesterday and the day before Jenna had a sudden passion for maths, and started sorting shells and counting them, making up problems for herself in sorting and counting. She wrote herself a long page of hard addition problems, then set about working how many different ways she could make a sum add up to 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - and 10. Then she wanted me to help her make a chart to show how she had sorted them by shape and texture, then by colour. We spent nearly two hours straight making different bar charts and Venn diagrams. My goodness.
I look at her handwriting and am torn between "wow, she taught herSELF how to do that too!" and "aw she is such a Little Kid still, this must be Big Stuff to her". After I got tired of the shells I tried to encourage her to get an easy board game out instead (*I* wanted a break!) but of course she chose a grown-up one with a heavy sorting-and-classifying component LOL.
I won. Barely.

So, to today. They were all outside all morning, and I'm pleased to say I have no idea what they have been doing after an intensive two days of helping out all the time! They just all trooped through and informed me in passing that they are going upstairs to play dressing up because it's getting too warm out there.

Six months ago, I was worrying that I was leading too much, not giving them space to make their own discoveries, and *always* needed to play with them. A month ago, I was feeling like I was totally neglecting them and never able to assist when they asked me for help with things. Maybe we have a little middle ground here this month, or maybe it's All Good, all times and seasons. Anyhow. We're feeling contented, busy enough, and fairly peaceful.

(Though a lot of that might be down to Rowan sleeping 11 hours last night for the first time in, well, a long time!)

13 July 2011

Quick post!

So, Rowan's sleep is getting crazier and crazier since the terribly late nights and then that first "earlier" night and 4am waking. We decided last night that we'd rather just let her drop where she drops than fight her over bedtime, no matter how tired we are, but she still went to sleep much earlier (and got up at 4am this morning again). Yesterday and today she has been so cranky and miserable, and has fallen into deep sleep around lunchtime which lasted nearly three hours. And she was BESIDES HERSELF when we tried to wake her from those naps.

So with all the craziness, and comparing notes with other mamas, we've re-eliminated dairy with her on the off chance that all the wierd sleeping and lack of sleeping and sudden downturn in her eczema symptoms is a gradual build-up in her system. I can face being long-term dairy-free MUCH more easily than I can face so little sleep and such an oppositional unhappy toddler! I don't know, I mean my mama instincts aren't telling me anything much, and it could "just" be a cold or well anything really, but the one thing I can do right now that definitely *won't* hurt her in any way is cutting out the cow milk.

In other news, I have had another two good days (though exhausted isn't the word!) and rather than getting on with house work I have been resolutely enjoying Doing Stuff with the children. I have been putting off too many of the projects and other stuff they suggest, understandably but very frustratingly for all of us. So this week we're busy being together and enjoying our time. :)

Now if only I knew what was going on with Rowan... ;)

11 July 2011


I haven't had much urge to take bump pictures yet... Baby is getting heavy and tight now, that halfway stage where subconciously the stomach muscles are still trying to assert some control and the end of the day is achey with awareness of how much bigger baby feels each week.
I'm still also having good days and not so much days. Last week I was super-emotional and got teary about everything, all the kind people who sent food or brought food over or thought to ask what they could bring us, or offered help with something concrete, or just listened to big feelings as they came up and needed processing. Yay for friends. I'm having more days of feeling less sick though.

On one of the not so great days we did tie dye in the kitchen and stained my worktops and our hands and the children's feet and an old towel. Yes, in the bump picture, that is one of our makes. :) I'm starting to feel like I want to get down to making things for bump. I still can't decide what to start first, oh my poor brain, but I actually might get around to it eventually anyway.
And Rowan has stopped nursing to sleep, which practically means she has stopped doing bedtimes at all and is ridiculously perky at 11pm. We're attempting to take her up for chill-out time at silly-early-7pm tonight in the hopes of resetting her body clock some. Fingers crossed for that, eh?

Time is going by in its usual way. :)

5 July 2011

A Wonderful Dream

I dreamt really vividly last night about the birth of this baby.

It was night and my family were around me, and I'd hardly been labouring for half an hour before a midwife arrived who I didn't know and who seemed nervous and kept wanting to check me constantly. Irritated, I took myself up to the bathroom on my own. In the silence I realised I knew deep down I was really close to meeting my baby. I wished my family were with me, and as if he had heard, my husband came into the room with Jenna and Morgan.

The midwife came upstairs a moment later to find me kneeling on the floor, and started to panic because he could see the baby's head and wanted to get me back downstairs where there was room. I hadn't pushed or felt an urge to push, but I calmly grabbed a relatively clean purple cloth from the laundry to pull underneath me covering the hard floor. Martin was accidentally blocking the overly-attentive midwife from the room. (Our bathroom is ridiculously tiny!)

I reached underneath myself and felt my baby slide out, without one single push. It was the plumpest baby I have ever seen, bigger than any of the others, and looking peaceful and timeless as the newly born often do. The midwife did come in then, and said he wanted to clear the baby's airways, and I laughed and said the baby's airways were already clear, couldn't he see it was breathing, sleeping?

I handed Martin the baby, and we all went downstairs again, me shaking a little and holding tight to Morgan's hand as she was sobbing and smiling. The midwife downstairs said she hadn't heard me pushing, and I said I hadn't, the baby had birthed itself. She asked for her paperwork if we had a girl or a boy and I didn't know (or much care) so I checked, and found she was a girl, curled up there round and warm on Martin's bare shoulder, and then we asked the midwives to leave us for a while.

The dream ended with my entire family sitting together on blankets on the living room floor, silent and content. Baby was in my arms again and wrapped lightly in a knitted blanket. I dreamt the entire labour from first contraction to after the birth, and woke early this morning wondering where my baby was. It was one of the most vivid and detailed dreams I have ever had.

4 July 2011

Beautiful Ordinary

Miraculous beauty from the barren earth - the council removed the decking next door before our new neighbours moved in, and the garden has been so bare - until the poppies sprung up triumphant, dormant for years under the decking. It is the most simply breathtaking view over the fence now.
Abundant summer blessings, more, always more, than we could ever need.
Sweet baby play. And the promises of future blessing.
These have grown so much since taking this picture! Lettuce and fat hen and spring onions being harvested already, more peas (yay) and leeks and broccoli to come before too long...
Bright Summer Season Table.
The gorgeous daily chaos of children and toys and a host of other mess. Just perfect.
Baby things, waiting.
And knitted joy from friends.
Lastly, I am SO BLESSED to have this beautiful piece of history in my home, currently in constant use as a play house (but really, mine...) - a proper wooden clothes horse.
How can it be, this grace, that at a time we should be so struggling, we are thriving, and blessed by a thousand gifts we never looked or hoped for? :)

3 July 2011

The Updatey Post

So, let's see... We went to Drayton Manor (for free) because there was some funding left through Dad group, which some of the volunteers got permission to use until it runs out. The children all really truly loved it, but it felt a bit flat to me going back as a grown up (and one who isn't too keen on busy noisy bright commercial spaces - and doesn't do queues). The best part of my entire day was seeing rabbits in the embankment when I took Rowan on a train ride.
Jenna was fearless. And tall enough to go on all the BIG rides. Scary! This is my little tiny daughter, UPSIDE DOWN, on a ride that a crowd of 15-16 year olds were too scared to go on. I remember going on this particular ride 17 times in one day as a young teen, funny how perspective shifts in ten years eh?
Father's Day Card by Jenna. :)
Solstice celebrations, and the first meal I remember really enjoying in a long while, I could have eaten a ton of those fresh peas (and I think I very nearly did)!
Home made blackberry leather, dipped in dark chocolate. Heavenly!
A walk around a local reservoir.
We found lots and lots of tiny frogs, this one needed rescuing from in the car park toilets and returning to the waterside!
Lovely summery days. And - last but not least - evidence of the dramatic clothes-putting-away activity of this week!