31 May 2012

The Day the Car Went Bang

Yesterday morning, we were all packed up and on our way to the swimming pool, when something inside our car went "pop" and then the engine starting making a low hissing roar whilst smoke poured in from goodness knows where.

We were very lucky to be somewhere safe to just pull in and unload everyone. The smoke and noise stopped as soon as the engine cut, so us five girls sat under a big tree whilst Martin poked around a bit to try to see if he could find a fixable problem to reassure us with. I started packing coats and sunhats and water bottles into bags so that I could get the girls home by bus. DSC06388
Two buses, and £9 poorer, we got back safe and sound. Martin got the car to a garage, where they told him they couldn't tell him anything until they took it apart, and he headed off to work on foot (just over half an hour's walk).
Our trip was unexpectedly nice, even. Rowan sat next to a sweet little old lady on the first bus, who fussed over how lovely she was and answered her seriously when she chattered. She asked whether the girls were not at school today, and when I replied that they are home educated she said, "how wonderful!" which was very refreshing. In town a lady stopped us to say that she loved the sling, and that it was nice to see a parent looking pleased to be with their children. At that point I was feeling more hot and tired than happy, so the compliment was much appreciated. On the second bus, we were even helped off with our armful of bags. These are the moments when I think that life is good and people are kind, and that it will all be OK.

Today brought mixed news.  The car isn't fixable without taking the entire front end apart to get at the problem, so that isn't a possibility.  Fortunately but somewhat nervewrackingly, it is actually still drivable in its current state - only it needs the water topping up every half an hour or so.  This leaves us with a horrendous decision, safety wise; take out roadside assistance and drive very carefully, or ditch the car and take the train for our two rapidly approaching holidays carrying enough stuff for six people AND changing trains at Birmingham without losing anyone.  Ugh.

I'm leaning towards thinking the car is do-able, though it makes me nervous as heck.  We were lucky not to have ended up with nowhere to stop the first time - but on the other hand the garage were very reassuring about the engine surviving as long as the water is refilled regularly.  I don't know enough about cars to either doubt or trust that particular advice!

And on to today.  Yesterday was frustrating and stressful and caused a lot of anxiety for me.  It got better, but I think the morning was sufficiently dramatic that all of the children were a bit shaken.  Anyway, I'm grasping at straws for an excuse as to why they have fought all morning and then Jenna has screamed at me most of the afternoon.  At one point I felt so much like slapping her I shut myself in the bathroom for a while.

I didn't shout back at her, and I stayed calm and reasonable.  I defended my boundaries, without punishing or belittling her.  I was not rude and obnoxious back.  But I still feel guilty.  And wrung out. Seven is hard - I remember just how hard it felt when it was me yelling at my mum that she didn't love me and would never understand me.  Today, I don't have any hard-won wisdom, just a lot of blah.

But I'm listing grace, anyway.
- We have enough savings put by to consider repairing the car
- Everyone was safe when it went wrong, and we were able to get home easily
- We have options for still going on holiday
- I am able to be calmer and more reasonable than a year ago
- I know that just as my mum and I got through it, Jenna and I will survive this tricksy independence dance
- packing for camp is nearly done
- Lael's rose is blooming gorgeously
- Martin has worked extra shifts this week so we don't have to be so careful with food money
- The way Rowan kisses me then gazes up as if to check I'm smiling
- Friends to debrief to, a cup of tea, and much-needed empathy
- I got a "sorrey" card through my door just this minute *melt*

30 May 2012

Knittalong: sweeties scraps and a pixie

I began improvising a pixie hat for Tali out of the lovely handspun alpaca Ashleigh gave me to dye. The colours came out like opal fruits.
The "plan" didn't work out, but the hat did, somehow, anyway. And I even had enough yarn for ear flaps. There is a scant few yards left over that may be just enough to crochet a flower or something. It was that serendipitous combination of yarn, colour, stitch, and project. :) DSC06373
Couldn't you just eat her?!
I finished the scrappy coffee bean too, also for Talia. I love random colour changes, and I'm very happy with this little top. It's something Katia (Aztec maybe?) a few bits of James C Brett Monsoon, and a length of James C Brett Imagine, and the button bands are Rico Melange!  Once again, I really *could* have been more careful working the button bands, but I'm not bored with this pattern yet and have to make at least once more!
I shan't put up a single work in progress, because they are increasing in number at a crazy rate and I'm having trouble keeping track of them all.  Honestly, I am so distracted by so many things at the moment, I just want to snatch up a project at random and work a row or two of something small.  So everything is taking ages!

I'm not even reading much.  So I won't be sharing any pretty book pictures.  I did just start "What Katy Did" with Jenna, and she is transfixed.  :)

27 May 2012

(some) days







1. velcro plus lolly sticks craft
2. hand dyed hand spun alpaca
3. the nettle patch is getting out of hand
4. delicious summery food
5. laughter
6. the promise of apples

26 May 2012

Plan, what plan?

I thought I knew how this week would be. Another round of library, park, swimming, maybe museum, maybe a ramble somewhere wild, food shop, Church... Somehow the sun just leaves me feeling so different, *everything* is different. DSC06158
It isn't that we haven't done those normal weekly things...  Though we have taken a couple of spontaneous jaunts - I thin the biggest difference is that I am at that tipping point of spending more time outside than in.
Artisan bakery in town = ciabatta and olives for snack on Monday, followed by the first of the English strawberries we could find = everyone is happy. DSC06151
The first day of summery weather did that magical and awful thing of showing up every messy corner and dirty floor and fingermarked window. So I cleaned the heck out of my house and was unbearable for at least 24 hours in my panic to Make the House Nice. My problem (well, one of my problems) is that I am utterly all or nothing. So when I clean up, that's all I can do, and I'm a horrible person to live with until it's done. The kids can either have a pretty tidy clean lovely house, or a mama who plays with them and makes things and sets up fun crafts, but apparently not both. Fine. Back to the latter, then. I give in!

The house might not get quite so bad so fast if we're all outdoors most of the day, anyway. DSC06209
Yeesss, that *is* my kitchen when it's clean. Don't ask about when it isn't. Anything beyond the most basic cleaning is a rarity. And I can't decide whether I'm mostly looking forwards to getting rid of the horrid old stained units or if I'm mostly terrified of having to empty every single thing out of there for a few days...  :S  On the other hand, we actually built the clothes storage for the children that they have been needing for about six months (and that we bought over two months ago).
Main Lesson Book with Morgan just isn't going, right now. She has so many things she'd rather do. As usual, I am struggling to let go whilst at the same time knowing that her instincts are way less socially conformed than mine and I can TRUST her. DSC06160
I am feeling drawn back to spontaneity.  It is, after all, what comes most naturally to me.  Planning is out of my usual mode of operation - and although a little bit helps things run more smoothly, a lot just stresses us all out.
Mud pies are far more interesting than adult-planned lesson time. I know, I know. Relax, mama! At least *mud* doesn't worry me!
Nor, apparently; sharpie body art, bare feet in the garden, or small children helping out with the fire... DSC06186 DSC06181
The meal plan has gone out of the window too. We'd rather eat fresh cool simple food, and food cooked out of doors.
Swimming was followed by the rest of the day in the shade of a tree on the park, just sitting. DSC06190 DSC06188
And all the rest of it, every ordinary extraordinary thing... DSC06197 DSC06201

The normal is absolutely transformed and renewed with a break from the torrential rain.

25 May 2012

Still here!

DSC06196 Fresh air, and manic crafting. Sounds pretty normal for us, doesn't it? DSC06221 I'm AWOL, as so many other bloggers are, because the weather and accompanying energy are just too good to be missed. :)

20 May 2012

Weekending Colour

Talia sucking the flavour out of a strip of mango leather in the car in Wirksworth.  She is very happy that I've decided to trust her instincts above mine - she thinks food is the most wonderful thing ever.  Except milk, of course (those overjoyed smiles when she realises I'm about to nurse her!!).
I got another fairly successful picture of them all before we headed out to my brother and sister-in-law's housewarming party.
Sometimes I really see the family resemblance!

I was being pretty brave, for me.  I decided that one way or another we *were* going to the housewarming, knowing it would be likely that mine would be the only children, knowing that there would be nobody able to rescue us or take us home if it rained or we needed to leave early (or both).  Martin was working until late so I wasn't even sure we'd have a lift home if we stayed to the end.
Actually, it wasn't as far as I thought.  And we didn't get lost.  And the children didn't complain.
And although they *did* run around the apartment shrieking (of course) they weren't any louder than the adults present.  ;)
Tali spat up on the floor.  I told them it was good practice for when my little nephew arrives.  Maarja is blooming and lovely - I refrained from making comment about the size of her bump, knowing how much it irks me when folks do that to me!  They are on the home stretch.  Bitter-sweet, remembering my pregnancy with Jenna and knowing that in spite of all the things I wish I'd known, advice is a double edged sword and the most helpful thing I can do is affirm their rights to make the choices that suit them.

Jenna makes friends everywhere we go.
Almost everywhere.  Some kids were picking on her at the park - saying she had a stupid laugh, that she had no friends, and that they would steal her scarf if she put it down.  She told me she wanted to call them idiots, but didn't - though she did threaten to hit them if they came any closer (not sure how I'm supposed to feel about that as a pacifist but I'm glad she defended her boundaries).



I have been trying to spring clean (again).  I may be a stay-at-home mum, but I am *so* not housewifely.  :S  Oh I like it when it's all clean and pretty, well enough.  I just lack the will to get it there on any regular basis.
There now seem to be more board games than fit on the shelves.  Which is probably a sign that the top shelf (mostly paper and card) needs sorting out too so I can put some up a shelf!  *sigh*  I am getting the urge to just charity shop every second item I come across in sorting out.  I have this chronic fear of wanting tracing paper or acetate some day and not having any...

Jenna recovered somewhat from her negative experience on the park by lying on my bed playing maths games for an hour.  Not the recreation I'd choose, perhaps...  But she's OK now.  She just needed a hug, mostly.


Talia thinks 4am is a good start to the day.  She begins by pinching my face to see if I'm awake.  If this doesn't get the required cheery good-morning smiles and kisses, she climbs up on my head and pulls my hair.  The next planned activity is attempting to throw herself off the end of the bed - followed by, if possible, stalking the cat (who always hears when the baby is awake and comes to play - stupid cat).

Izzy is the most capricious cat there ever was.  She loves babies, but hates being petted.  Tough luck, cat, baby loves to pet.  And potentially eat you...  At this point I *have* to look alive, because when Izzy isn't happy she's liable to bite and scratch.  You can see what Talia thinks: FRIEND!
When Izzy does scratch, it's usually a gentle warning pat with sheathed claws first (only Tali gets this gracious allowance, she never shows any restraint with us!) so Tali has only been actually scratched twice - on her arm - and she pursues the furry friend any time she sees her.  If only Izzy were a nice normal cat who just moved away when she didn't want to be petted!
Usually around 6am I give up.  I put the laptop on and start some music playing, get my mind in gear, and give myself a little time getting ready for the day.  Talia comes and helps with the computer by bashing the keys and trying to chew the corner if she can get close enough.

I want to say I hate mornings, but Tilly Minnow is such a ridiculously happy person it's hard to resent even this crazy early start to the day.  She's kissable even at 4am, it turns out...

18 May 2012

This week...

Such a lot has been ordinary, some moments of frustration, some high spots, some laughter, some tears.  A lot of beauty.


We needed another long walk after another week of illness.  Attenborough was just SO beautiful.  The world is so alive!  The girls made a fairy house.  A mama swan brought her babies right up to us as if showing them off (though I suspect she was hoping we'd feed her).


In the family picture, it's me behind the camera again, but you can see my neice Charlotte.  She spent the whole day with us, and it's always lovely to catch up with her.
(Excuse me while I take a quick break from posting, I have to stop the baby from stalking the cat...  OK, I'm back, now where was I?)
I have a shockingly small number of nursing pictures with Talia.  This one isn't very good, but it is important to me, a record of where so much of the time goes to with a small baby.  Oh, and also, this:
She falls asleep in some crazy positions!  In my bag on the floor you can just see the lovely purple of a shawl I'm working on.  It's still at a portable size, my favourite part of working on a shawl.  (Sorry, I have to just go stop the baby crawling off the bed again...)
Jenna started working on an Ancient Greece lapbook, my sneaky attempt to fill in some gaps left by her specialist costume-and-myths research.  It's not at all important to me that she memorise facts, but I want to help her acquire research skills and find new questions to ask.  I expected my offer to be declined ungraciously and no lapbooking to be done at all, but she leapt at it and spent hours working on it.  Rowan wanted to get in on the action.
Yes, that is a three-year-old-made PIRATE lapbook!  Morgan made the flag on a stick for her.  Isn't it awesome?  Rowan is just hilariously cute.  And of course the cuteness led to further pirate-ing.
Which is just cuteness overload, really.

And even though I spent an hour reading Mr Man books to Rowan, half an hour talking Jenna over her sheer terror of a level of Harry Potter on the playstation, at least two hours doing lapbooking stuff with them, some tidying in the garden, and some knitting, I also managed another kilogram of yarn dyeing.

There you go, Joxy.  Yours is now done!  I am really happy with the work I've done this week.  It feels like quite an achievement.  2kg of yarn, *and* lots of other wholesome activity alongside the children.  If only the laundry would do itself, we'd be perfect!