30 March 2012


Here we are, back in our own home again after just the busiest most lovely sunny week away.  I don't know where to start.  Northumberland is the place my heart calls to.  It's my other home.  To be quite honest, I feel more than the usual post-holiday-flat-feeling right now.  I feel homesick, already.

Where shall I begin with catching up?  I think I'll start with home base.  This is my little tour of the cottage we stayed in...

Living room:


Little kitchen where I made cupcakes without any weighing scales, and baked a whole rainbow trout gifted from the neighbours (really)!! :



Jenna unpacking her dollies on her little cabin bed up in the eaves:

Home.  My Ashleigh-made handspun birthday shawl on the back of a chair:

And here's a little preview of what we have been up to all week...  The beaches in this part of the country are truly the most beautiful peaceful places.  Windswept and perfect.


Here are three of my little daughters stomping down the gravel path I have such vivid childhood memories of walking down.
I remember my little brother's red wellies ahead of me.  The sound of the stones and the frost grinding underfoot.  It must have been November.  I was about six.  Birdsong and the smell of snow.

This picture used to hang above the bed my youngest brother slept in.  It's in the play room now.  Sharing my memories of such a special place with my children, well, it has just been awesome.

Village Farm has a pool.  The pool my brothers learned to swim in.  All week, Jenna has been getting stronger and stronger and braver, and can now tread water and swim lengths and surface dive so well.  She is like a little seal in the water.  Morgan swam her first unsupported strokes without arm bands.

And Talia just basked.  Sun, water, family, sun, water: baby bliss.

Can you blame us for not really wanting to come back to Derby after such a perfect week?

29 March 2012

So Long Ago!

My two big girls were really NEVER that small.  Nope.
I found this the other day and was so struck by it.  This is three years ago, the summer when Rowan was tiny and Morgan was two and a half and Jenna was about to turn five.  So long ago.  Just look at them.  My babies!

And yet again, wasn't this just a few weeks ago, and where has that time all gone to in a great rush?  Wow.  Just wow.

28 March 2012

Knitalong (A Reveal!)

No reading today, well, lots of reading but no different from last week!  Some knitting finished though.  :)

Those bright mystery stripes quickly turned out to be...  A Jellybean for Jude.  It's a Little Coffee Bean but in super-bright colours.  Rico Kids, wool-free but surprisingly great-feeling aran.
It's a tad disproportional because I misread the pattern, but hey perhaps that's an advantage with a little baby?  It certainly is bright, fun, soft, squishy, and I'm pretty happy with how it came out.  I will definitely be making more of those.

And Jenna's Shruglet is alllmost done too.  I screwed up, without a needle guage, and made it a tad big which meant I ran out of yarn (typical of me) but tis still a great fit and a very pretty project.  I might make another...  Yeah, add it to the list...  I'm working on a whole lot of other stuff too but, hey, this is meant to be me staying off the computer...

26 March 2012

One Thing I Love

...is finding little scenes the girls have been playing with, sometimes in utter disarray, sometimes carefully arranged for play, but always so sweet and perfect.
Blurry pictures, I know, but I took these late one night and just couldn't resist them. So creative and so typical of their play.
A friend made me that scarf years ago - who knew it would be a river some day? And check out the magic forest!
Perhaps my favourite, the incongruous plastic men (and tribal princess) sitting eating cake on building-block chairs. Awesome.
Tidying up is for a different sort of mama. This kind of mama gets the camera out and leaves the mess for morning. :)

25 March 2012

(Some) Days in Pictures

OK so this is last Saturday, not Sunday, but as if I've actually managed a picture a day anyway!  I try...

Ashleigh wore Rowan home from the sling meet, and yes of *course* the toddler fell asleep on her! Aw, thankyou for carrying my lump of a little girl, lovely lady!

This picture is hilarious to me, it is SO typical.  Jenna is all proud of her work.  Morgan is dressed somewhat randomly.  And Rowan, well, she's in the background quietly getting on with posting things into the radiator while nobody is looking...

Emma looking classy on the park, with my very drooly baby in arms.

If I don't get much chance to reply for a couple of days, but don't worry, we're all fine. Just taking a lovely little break together in the Spring sunshine. :)

22 March 2012

Sunshine and swings

Yesterday we got to the park after swimming again, and stayed all afternoon.  Emma wrestled with some tricksy yarn, Ash knitted away at a pixie jacket for Talia, and I finished off those mysterious orange and blue stripes (successful pick-up-and-knit, proud)!

Lazy parenting in action (both on the crafting mamas part, and the daddies, who lay back and let the children do all the work)!

Connor adores Jenna, and follows her around.  She is very patient with all of the little ones, mostly.  I need to remember that when I'm frustrated with her tiring of their constant presence.

Sun in Morgan's eyes!

Me plus bean, plus shameful bought bread picnic behind us.  ;)

Children, just being children, in the sun.




Um, yes.  And the husbands, too, being children.  :)

Well, if I hadn't wanted to finish the knitting so badly I'd have been on the swings too!

Three Months

Another post I have been intending to write for over a week now. I suppose I've been fighting it, haha, not wanting to really sit down and acknowledge that we are undeniably past "newborn".
She is constantly damp around the chin - and the hands - because she loves to chew on things, especially her own forefinger.

She has been having a growth spurt in a big way and is unfillable this week! Milk milk milk milk! But somehow those little fat hamster cheeks are still slimming out as she puts on some leg length instead! She looks very grown up sometimes, and I find myself heart-sore with trying to remember just how she felt in my arms when she was squishy and tone-less and red and new.

She is so kissable, I kiss her like a mad woman, over and over while she chortles and tries to grab my chin.

The older sisters adore her, even if they do sometimes pile her up with toys...
She is curious and funny and intensely nosy. She loves to talk to people, and wave and grin at them, and she insists on being held facing outwards whenever possible. She is very very chatty and vocal, verbalising her feelings in soft sweet grunts and half-word-sounds.
She grasps things we wave at her, and puts them to her mouth. I have bruises on my legs from those kicky feet. I want to write it ALL. I feel like I miss her already, even while she's still here.
It goes too fast.

21 March 2012


Woah, when did it get around to Wednesday again? This past fortnight or so have flown by. I feel as if I'm overflowing with things I want to say, share, write out just to reorder and make sense of my thoughts. But the living of it is taking up all my time!

Right now I am knitting these beautiful fun stripes.
And that's as much as I'll tell you, because it's a gift and a surprise. So there. :P

I'm reading the most recent of the Song of Ice and Fire books, since it finally arrived after I reserved it at the library a month ago.

(This week I also read the two most recent Temeraire books as Emma hadn't got the time to read them herself. When I gave her Flight of Eagles back she said, "Already?! and I had to confess that I'd devoured both in two days and just not managed to bring the other to return to her!)

I have still not found the love for the Raymond Feist, so he is on the pile of "might get around to" things.
I am liking Dance with Dragons better than the last three books of the very long Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) series. It is *very* good so far. But the book is so ridiculously huge it's unwieldy to hold, and I can't carry it around with me. *sob* Ah well. More time for knitting I guess. ;) I'm going to cast on a hat, a cardi for Talia, a shawl, AND a dress commission in the next week or two. So many projects, so little time!

20 March 2012

Backsliding and Dithering

A decision, once made, is rarely made for good where I am concerned. If you have no tolerance for dithering and self-doubt, skip this post! Things sometimes get so ridiculously tangled up in my head...

At least a year ago I came to the conclusion that beginning to keep kosher was the right thing to do, for me. The rest of the family aren't (the children so far as I control what I buy but not so far as what other people feed them). The other day, I started having cravings for pork, and did I stick to my principles? Did I heck. I justified the decision to buy a sausage sandwich, in spite of all my reasons for keeping kosher in the first place. I had a stomach ache for the rest of the day - perhaps psychosomatic, but self-inflicted either way. Stupid. 

EC worked so well for us, one way or another, with other babies. Sometimes by instinct, sometimes by timing, sometimes by clear signals from our babies. And yet here I am, feeling an utter failure on that score. Talia wears nappies. Almost full time. I sometimes catch a signal and do something about it, but far more often I swear she has just peed on me without even stirring - and far more often I go from activity to activity and realise I haven't even changed her nappy all morning. So much for the smug self-congratulatory things I said as a new parent about never leaving my child in a wet nappy!

Actually, maybe I should just try to stop processing and questioning so damn much, because since I started writing this I have taken her to the toilet twice successfully.  What is it with me?  Seriously?

And these are the "easy" things - the things that at least I still have clear ideals in my head and can work at, gently, not beating myself up with them, but learning and moving forwards... There is a goal. I DO believe that humans are meant for a kosher diet (specifically, that "unclean" meats and fish are not fit for consumption). I DO believe that EC is possible and desirable where and when it's working, and that it can and will work more often for us as time goes on - even if it's only ever part time.

Some things I fight and fight and still can't fix. Talia crying while I put out some other domestic fire... Squabbles between siblings. NORMAL everyday stuff. Oh how I undervalued those long boring quiet domestic days when Jenna was small. She cried a lot more, I KNOW that, but certainly I was more free to be there with her while she did so.

I find myself calling, "I'm coming baby, I'm sorry, I know, I'm COMING." She doesn't understand, but it makes me feel slightly better.

Attachment Parenting is not failing me - and I'm not failing at it. All a written-down set of ideals can give me is the reassurance I sought - is it OK to follow my heart and Be Present with my baby? Answer: sure, go right ahead. There is evidence to support your hearts yearning to be there for this little person.

And I'm not failing. Just the ideal right here right now in the real world looks different to how it looked when I had more hands (or fewer people and things which those hands had to attend to) and different to how I thought it might...

Other ideals are more loosely held. I still believe that plastic isn't a great thing to have around, and yet and yet... Is it an increase in maturity to "give in" and take my children's stated desires into account when buying? How can they understand all the ins and outs of why we do what we do to make an informed choice about buying - yet how can I judge their choices "poor" when they make those choices joyfully and instinctively.

I don't want plastic toys. But they aren't my toys. I go back and forth, back and forth. The children have some plastic toys now. This world is just so... pervasive. *want to go live in a cave with only wholesome things around us* Only partly kidding.

Jenna is using worksheets again. I feel the wrongness of them, it niggles at me. These are cheap junk-food; not the wholesome filling educational experiences I want to provide to her. How far do I choose what to offer, how far do I go with what is *here* and *now* and working - or at least not hurting? (Morgan asks for worksheets: I still give her my sneaky-mama substitutes of form drawing and mandala colouring and mazes!)

That word, "no". Oh heaven help me, my Waldorf heart tugs against my Radical Unschooling head. 

Does anyone have any idea what I'm wittering on about?

OK, this is it: sometimes I have no idea what I'm doing. Sometimes my ideals prove themselves to be faulty in the outworking. Sometimes the ideals are fine and real life is just not like that. Sometimes I am not able. And sometimes I don't even have the first idea where to start puzzling, testing, tasting what is good, what is right for us, what is true and wholesome. 

So I come back, again, and again, to love. Love is always right. Kindness, truth, joy, peace, patience, self-control, gentleness: these I can trust.

When I ask myself, "is this kind?" Wow. I get the answers I am looking for more often than not - and the times I don't, maybe, just maybe, I'm just asking the wrong questions and stressing about things that are really minor matters of personal preference.

Love is always right. Simple.

18 March 2012

Weekending: Treasures and Blessings

On Saturday I met three of my favourite ladies for lunch, then two of them assisted me in not losing any of my children into the canal as we took a Spring-time stroll along the Riverside path.

It's a beautiful route, very restful, and to think that it's so close to the city centre! We bought chocolate milk, apple juice, and fruit bars for snack time before we set out.
And we didn't end up having to rescue any of the children - though Rowan was determined to make it a near-thing. FEET ON THE FLOOR NEAR WATER! When, WHEN, did I ever imagine I would be shouting that at the top of my voice as a small blonde Wild Thing hangs off a rusty metal fence besides a rushing river? *sigh*
I looove this lady. Yay for not being a grown up!
And sweet fabulous Ashleigh willingly carrying a tired grumpy pickle all the way back again.
Sunday was Mothering Sunday, and my funny little girls tried so hard to sneak in and surprise me - alas for them, I was up already! They had made pictures for me, and Jenna had secretly done some quilling, she was so proud to show me my present. I had, the night before, made myself chocolate muffins for breakfast too.
After Church, the park was calling.
And after the park, the knitting. So nearly finished, but drat it all if I haven't run out of yarn. I can't be sure without measuring my knitting whether my gauge is off or if the ball is just slightly short, but I am literally ten rows off done and waiting for another ball of the same to come by post this week!
The best Mother's Day present of all, though... Yes.
Four happy healthy vibrant creative funny daughters. All of them just so perfectly themselves. All of them so loved, and so loving.

(Rowan quote of the day: "Where is Daddy gone? It is really half past bedtime.")

17 March 2012

Seven Days - and things that should not go in hair








1. Sunday night, late, after a concert at a local church, walking home past the library in the darkness.
2. Baby trying her little arms and legs at commando crawling (nooo) - she can't get far, but I can no longer leave her on the bed for a minute. *sigh*
3. Felting eggs. :)
4. Baby asleep over Chris' arm on the park.
5. Children's tea party with friends.
6. What happens when Morgan puts a science experiment in her hair. (!!!)
7. After the trauma of yesterday, this is my Saturday morning!

For reference, gak comes out of hair with a whole lot of vinegar, it goes kind of brittle and stringy. Science in action, eh? At least searching Google for remedies was slightly comforting in that I discovered I am by no means the only mother to whom this has happened! It's funny when it isn't your child... ;) It took a hysterical phonecall to Ashleigh to calm down enough to deal with it, and by that time I was more laughing than crying.

Oh, Morgan...