30 July 2012

Wanderings and other stuff

Stony Woods again.  We drove past the little houses on the hill, tiny front doors peeling paint, wide worn stone steps with fat cats sunning themselves.  I'd love to live here, our favourite little village.  It's a warm and friendly place, a place that fills us up with peacefulness.

Baby exploring the giant stone star chart.  She spent ages poking the little indentations of the stars, and crawling out of her booties, and kneeling up bouncing and laughing at herself.  And nursing, interrupting my endless cast-off row for Sue's shawl!

The girls all fell asleep in front of the television, watching the Olympic opening ceremony.  None of them stayed up more than fifteen minutes later than their normal bedtimes, in spite of their very best efforts!

On Saturday the electrics cut out just after Martin went to work, so the girls and I locked up the house and walked into town to get away from the alarm beeping until it could be fixed for me.  I struggled to go slow and be present for the endless distractions and diversions that a walk with children entails.

I was chanting to myself, "be here now, be here now!"  About halfway I started to relax and accept the adventure for what it was; walking four children along the main road on a busy Saturday is pretty much my nightmare parenting scenario, but I enjoyed it.  :)

What else..?  We had to give in and get a new vacuum cleaner.  The other one was held together with duct tape as it was, but the wires started fraying and it was pretty hit and miss as to whether it turned on or not!  I tried sweeping the floor for a week, but it looks gritty enough ten minutes after I hoover it, so sweeping was *not* cutting it.
The box is the children's new favourite toy.  Unfortunately, the favourite game is to get inside, crouch down, and rock forwards until the box crashes down.  I had to insist that they not push each *other* over inside it - after the two middle ones both got bumps from playing that game - but oh the shrieks of happy laugher!  It's not a quiet game.

I've dyed another few skeins of yarn, and am full of project ideas.  :)  Oh, and Miss Baby Dimples said her first "word" this week: on Saturday she started saying, "hii-yah" when we play peekaboo with her.  She demonstrated this impressive trick loudly at anyone who looked at her at church on Sunday - along with begging the old ladies for their cups of tea!

29 July 2012

Week in Pictures, more ordinary days









1. Happy end-of-day mess
2. Dyed bamboo on the line
3. Bean in the sling, watching the geese
4. Husband and toddler inside a tree
5. More living room scenes
6. Madder dyed yarn
7. Beautiful Rowan tree against the sky
8. Baby sad eyes getting rained on at the park

26 July 2012

Sun (oh, and things that freak me out)

Life got harder by every usual measure, yet I am feeling lighter.  Must be the sunshine.  My best friend jokes that she is solar-powered - aren't we all?  We have all had a fleeting but horrible cold, but bugs of the other kind are really freaking me out.  Nits.  Ugh.

I *hate* crawly things.  The mere suggestion of them does things to my self-esteem that mean I struggle to even say "we had nits".  My mum struggles with such things to a huge degree; she would surreptitiously check my head before she hugged me as a child, the pattern is so ingrained I am fighting upstream not to do the same to the girls.  Mum, if you're reading, I think you were a hero for hugging me anyway, because now I know just how much it freaked you out to do so.

I've spent hours combing and combing each in turn, sitting in the bath til it turns cold, hugging them and saying sorry.  I'm such an idiot.  I don't want them to flip out too, I don't want them to feel ashamed or scared.

Another issue, that is huge in my head and tiny in real life, is that I have that conflict between the gentlest parenting choice and the safest most natural choice.  This time I've given them the choice - do they want to let me properly condition and comb every single day, or would they prefer chemical treatment?  I never enforce brushing.  I was *totally* relieved when they all chose to let me comb, though.  It's such times when I would usually panic and try to force my preferred option, so it was hard to offer them a genuine choice with a commitment to follow through and take them seriously.  Thank goodness, they made it easy - this time, anyway.  ;)

OK now we've got over the deep authentic heart searching stuff, and you can all stop itching.  ;)  My children, poorly, watching a film and cuddled up on a big floor-bed.  Aw.  Morgan just sleeps and sleeps when she's ill.

But see: happy stuff.

I knitted more cables.  They're addictive.  A baby dress for my shop, which again, I'd really like to keep.  My garden is nice and shady in the heat.

We took a picnic to Attenborough: cue pensive picture of Tali with watermelon.






The sun is also great for getting lots of dyeing done.  I'll take some pictures soon.  But the cold has lingered longest for me, so I'm just not feeling very much like celebrating the everyday.  I'm focussing on:
- saying yes, as much as I can
- feeding everyone
- drinking enough water
- creative stuff that keeps us all sane
- kicking everyone out into the garden at every possible opportunity!

24 July 2012

How the Kids Ruined my Learn Nothing Day (again)

Well before I had chance to stop them the two older ones had pulled out a book of worksheets from goodness-knows-where and started doing number matching and addition with money respectively!  Oh well, I thought, there goes another Learn Nothing day.  I mean, seriously, even if I was aiming for "nothing that looks remotely like learning to my dad" we failed before breakfast.  Must try harder.

When the little ones were busy picking up the clean clothes they had kindly emptied out, Jenna and I watched an episode of (yes, slightly unsuitable) The 4400.  We ended up talking about civil liberties in different eras, especially relating to the (black American) South Korean veteran finding the world now so very different to his life in the fifties.  History and politics.  Drat.
I had a bad case of "need to get out of the house", so we went for a walk.  More fool us, we chose a place that had inconveniently decided to have a fayre showcasing local heroes, from the emergency services and so on.  I was quite determined not to learn anything I didn't have to (OK, really, not to spend money on the giant slide that only one child would actually want to come down, or spent unnecessary time in large crowds) so we walked around the lake instead.

We were doing rather well until we found a big sign about ice on the lake, and had one of those horribly educational (normal natural) conversations about why ice forms differently depending on how deep the water and how low the temperature and what plants are growing under the water and so on.  It took in climate around the world, how ice depth can be measured, how plants breathe, how to safely cross ice if you really really have to, and how much snowfall Estonia had last year.


The children "helped" Martin make a raft out of sticks, built a pretend campfire, listened to echoes, watched dragonflies mating (don't you just love having kids who ask those kinds of questions at the tops of their little voices?), and found a HUGE fish happily hiding out in a dark spot.  "It breathes through its GILLS, Morgan!"  Shh, Jenna!
In the car, I worked out that because of the kind person who gave us their parking ticket as we arrived, I had enough money for us to go out for dinner on the way home.  I mentioned that it has been a long couple of weeks, right?  ;)  In the restaurant, Jenna was trying to read the French and Italian vintage menus in a frame on the wall.  I asked her how often I say we have money for dessert, and she replied in a percentage, and explained to me that "percent" means "out of a hundred", so we converted some percentages into fractions out of curiosity (yeah, FAIL, I even accidentally tested my older daughter out of sheer shock that she knew what a percentage was).
Back at home, Rowan found an old picture of me with my family, and we ironed out some confusion about the passage of time - ie that the "mummy" was Grandma Rhoda, and the little girl she was determined to think of as Jenna was in fact me, and the little boy she thought was herself was my brother Jay.  Then we went through the fun "when I'm a baby again" conversation with the three year old.

Morgan:  HOW many times do I have to tell you, we are NOT growing small!
Rowan:  Well *I* am.
Morgan:  No, we all get OLDER.  We all grow UP!
Rowan:  I'm getting small.  I'm going to be a baby again.

Okaaayyy.  Oh and now Morgan is watching Mythbusters.

Every single year.  Even though I believe that we're learning all the time, we *definitely* have days when it doesn't *look* like we're learning anything.  And believe me, there are days when I panic and look really hard.  ;)  But every year I think, ha, Learn Nothing Day, I bet we do it this year - or at least Learn Nothing Visible.  And every year they only go and look like they're actually getting a school-hours-full-time "proper" education.  *sigh*

I'm not sure whether they are secretly proving my point, or deliberately making me look bad, or what.  It's so confusing.  Maybe next year, eh?  ;)

21 July 2012

Some more ordinary days

Martin actually had his days off this week.  Goodness it made such a huge difference.  I have felt so much better since those days of extra hands and freedom to go out and about.  I'm still struggling a little - I hate this feeling - but also feel guilty for whining about "nothing".  Anyhow.  Weekly ramble:
When we stopped for a while, we picked up two whole bags of rubbish.  So sad to see how little respect some have for this beautiful place.  Under a large piece of broken glass and a discarded can, we found a nest of ants who busied themselves hiding their precious eggs from us.
My first attempt at sunprinting fabric wasn't terribly successful...
We took our gaggle of girls to see Oliver put on by my mum's school children.  We dressed up, because that's just what you *do* - even for kids' productions.
Jenna: "I bet we stick out."
Me: "We do anyway!  Do you mind?"
Jenna: "Nah."
Lots of normal, everyday, wonderful.  I have to just list off these blessings every single day.  Healthy happy children.  Love.  Family.
We made it to the museum for the play session on Friday again.
I dyed some roving.  :)
And finally, had a barbecue, for which the sun shone, the children played happily, and all the food had to be cooked inside anyhow (well, sometimes you can't have it all)!  Here is Tali, being made to play Rapunzel in Jenna's show.
It's hard work, right now, for much of most days.  I don't know why.  It just is.  But it's whole and bright and good, no matter how I temporarily feel.  These days, these ordinary average days, I will find the joy in them. Because each day is a precious gift.

18 July 2012

Yarn Along: time-pressed soul food

Joining in with Ginny again, to share the weekly books and projects that are getting what scant attention this week allows.  I am feeling... scattered.  Pulled and stretched.  So this book is just perfectly right and fitting for my heart and soul, so hungry and tired.  I only wish I had more time for reading when I most need it.  Even daily devotions are being somewhat squeezed between exhaustion and unwanted busy-ness.
The scarf is my Saroyan, mustard yellow alpaca and silk; lovely watching the leaves form.  But yet another thing that isn't getting the attention it deserves.  I long for a day off to just knit and read, and I'm craving just an hour of silence.

I treated myself to this book: Cast On Bind Off.  It's perhaps not as comprehensive as I expected, implying as it does that there are *many* decorative bind-offs included where in fact there are a couple (do more exist, somewhere?) but overall...  It's a clear easy-to-use book with great pictures and lots of helpful detail.  I'm glad I got it.  Perhaps my expectations were a little too high, I don't know!

I also (apart from the baby hat and jumper that made it into other posts) knitted this, for my shop.  It's partway through getting its embellishments.  Morgan wants to keep it.  :)  Super soft light fine cotton.  :)

16 July 2012

Week so far: visitors, long hours, chaos, and pattern designing

So.  Saturday was the longest day *ever* - I officially burnt out on long hours alone in the house with the beans, early early mornings with snuffly babyness, and too much noise.  So much for a positive mental attitude!  Ended up shouting at Tali to leave me alone by midmorning, and took some very wise advice to stop trying to hard and take care of myself in the afternoon.  I made Butterbeer (caramel latte) as a gesture of affection for my wee wild ones, and did some knitting related maths (which it is unusual for me to find relaxing)!  I was recovered by tea time.

Then some little visitors turned up, and a whole pack of sweet happy overexcited children ran amok while I quietly ignored the chaos in favour of knitting and pattern designing.
Well, Martin arrived home eventually, and the chaos subsided slightly.  Or perhaps it's that it doesn't get into my head when it's not my sole responsibility!  Film, home made popcorn, happy children...  Bliss.

At Church, Talia enjoyed screeching to get people to look at her, so we decamped to the little room at the back where she switched her attentions to trying to pop balloons.  *sigh*  Martin took her for a walk outside eventually.  And we spent the afternoon zipping here and there, water park, my mum's house, visit with grandad, crazy day.
The lack of posting or pictures yesterday is explained along similar lines.  Noise, chaos, lack of positive mental attitude, exhaustion, burnt-out, long work hours for hubby, AND a busy day.  Rhyme time at the library (on my own with four children = brave), sling meet (also on my own, but joined by hubby for lunch, and with more people to catch my children if they tried to escape) where I delivered some custom bright rainbow yarn to a friend and talked about home birthing and benign neglect as a parenting style.  ;)
This was the rest of my Monday.
Monday was pretty darn joyous, actually.  Something about Rowan's cheery affection and Talia's long nap in the afternoon...  So today, I am going to make a good attempt at going with the flow again and not getting caught up in the "chore" mentality.  Wish me luck!