30 November 2012

In the details

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Outside my window... the sky is so grey and empty, the clouds a muffling sheet over everything.  The world is still.  The yellowing willow hangs unmoved by and chill ripple of a breeze.  Bare stalks stand in the flower beds, with the fierce surprising gold of Winter Jasmine in the distance.

I am thinking...  about plans for gift sets in my shop, and the beautiful words of ancient prayers.  About what time the girls will wake and pour downstairs this morning, and about the awesome responsibility in becoming worthy of their unconscious imitation.  Incongruous as it may at first appear, it all lives in my head quite comfortably, and coexists through common threads of love, grace, and mindfulness.  :)

I am thankful...  for the small joys of new sparkly citrus soap, the quiet before the tumult of the day, and the perfection of the tiny and insignificant around my home.

In the kitchen...  grains are soaking for stew, and my morning mint tea is going slowly cold as I sit unwilling to disturb the contented baby who is slowly causing my arm to numb.

I am wearing...  soft yoga trousers and a long grey dress.  Comfortable hippy clothes, with my favourite red cardigan.  A pendant made from beach slate.  Worn red flat comfy shoes.

I am creating...  ice-blue felt bowls and stitched heart ornaments, right now.  :)

I am reading...  The Fiery Cross from the Highlander series.

I am hoping...  the girls will be able to have their planned sleepover this week - life so often throws up unexpected obstacles, sick babies and family emergencies, drama rehearsals and exhaustion.

I am looking forward to...  Hanukah lights, Advent calenders, and birthday cakes.  A month filled with the twinkle of stars, the glow of candlelight, and precious shared traditions.

I am learning...  just how quickly and easily mathematical reasoning comes when it's learned without obligation or shame.

I am pondering...  the wheel of the year.  And how to get Talia to keep on either hat or booties.

One of my favourite things... the way the frost turns each blade of grass into a luminous pale fragile fern.

Daybook

29 November 2012

Cleaning, creating

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Beautifying and clearing, simplifying...  I need my space to feel welcoming and comfortable at this time of year.  Our home is always a place with open doors, where people know they are cherished and welcome, and especially on feast days I merrily over-cater expecting extra bodies to arrive needing to be fed.  There is something holy in extending welcome, in creating fellowship.

As much as I wish I were a person who could make a space look perfect and polished, I'm not.  But I am a person who can make a place comfortable and warm.  And who can rouse themselves to do a just about passable job of tidying the forgotten corners with the aim of filling the house with people in the near future.  :)
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The toys have received a good clean courtesy of a late night with a baby who wasn't sleeping.  The art wire has been changed over for Winter, and the new felt decorations Morgan and Jenna helped me to make are hanging along with the last traces of a golden Autumn I haven't yet entirely relinquished.

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This easy art project based on Van Gogh's Starry Night kept the girls happy last painting day.  <3 p="p">
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My brothers brought round the sofa my mum was getting rid of.  As nice as the last one was, it was impossible to clean, and Rowan was sick on it twice last week.  The new one is quite a relief.

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Even the fireplace is clear ready for festival decorations.  I'm just knitting away, now, making sure everything is ready for Advent.  I think I can start getting excited now...

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27 November 2012

Homey Days

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Before our holiday, the oncoming Winter was a kind of creeping dread, a feeling of impending change that I didn't like and didn't want.  I love the Winter round of festivals, and the return to home and hearth, yet it didn't feel right.  I wasn't ready.

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Riding the waves of holiday joys, and feeling refreshed and invigorated and inspired, I have returned ready to do valiant battle against the forces of Chaos, Laundary, and Applied Mathematics.  I have found myself rising more or less reluctantly (as usual) and able to give myself over to breakfast time and endless questions and even smile (not usual - or at least not until the third cup of tea).  Circle time and projects and daily activities are slotting back into their usual places, without so much as a missed step in the dance.  How?  I didn't do anything different!

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I feel different though.  Ready.  Present.

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Fuelled by the baklava my lovely mum supplied me with, I have been Getting Things Done.  How badly things *needed* to Get Done around here.  And I'm not even claiming to be slightly back in control of the laundry; whatever nirvana state I was approaching before we went away has been totally done away with faster than you can say, "unpacking and also looking under the children's beds"...  But who cares?  Sewing and knitting projects!  Yay!

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I finally mended Morgan's vest.  I don't know how much longer she can squeeze into it, since it was one of the first things I knitted, but she still loves it.  Talk about style - brown velvet, PJ top, and a knitted vest.  *melt*

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Look, seriously, even an actual proper afternoon rest time (watching Matilda).  Sweet.  :)

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For a moment, I thought I had the wrong kids.  Until Rowan and Jenna started kicking each other to get more room and woke Talia up...  Well, this is part of the warm cozy home life too - figuring out relationships with the aide of siblings.  Sometimes in ways that leave me fondly remembering the efficacy of walking the crazies off on the wild Wintery shores.

Next task, re-instating daily walks for those days when we're mostly home based.  Perhaps when we're all over this batch of illness.

26 November 2012

Bringing home peace, along with the sand in our shoes...

What a week!  A week in my favourite place in the world, a breezy sunlit corner of the North East, where the sand is clean and creamy-golden, where the sea is a stormy slate grey most of the year round, and life is just a little simpler.  Home again now, sleeping in my own bed and surrounded by the familiar rainbow chaos, I dream of packing everything up and finding a stone cottage up there in my heart's home...
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A week of rambling and exploring and most of all breathing the cold salt air.  My soul calls to the sea, and it tugs at me wherever I am.  How ironic that I have grown up, and live now, as far from the sea as it's possible to get on this little wave-washed island!

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Lindisfarne visits and taking rubbings.

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And swimming every day in the little indoor pool at the farm where we stay - luxury itself to be able to throw towels and damp gear in a bag at any time of day and just take off to exhaust the children in hours of swimming!  In a week, Morgan has become an excellent swimmer, and Jenna can now dive cleanly and strongly.  Talia jumps in from the side when we call her to us. Waterbabies all.

But most of all, the beaches.  Each and every one a little paradise in spite of the chill.

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I cannot make that baby wear a hat.  It is sorely distressing me, and the Northern cold bluster driving us all into our warmest layers still doesn't persuade her.  Here she is, cross, having pulled off her little cap for the hundredth time.  I just can't convince myself that she isn't cold when we are all shivering, and she is convinced that every hat on offer is an affront on her baby dignity.

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At the end of the week, my birthday, beginning with a rainbow candle on the table and birthday brownies baked by Jenna.  A long swim, our last of the trip, and then lunch out in a lovely little cafe.

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A goodbye to the coast and the tranquillity here.  28 times around the sun, and this day spent between two places that I can call "home" - just about perfect.  How very blessed I am!  Tired but happy:

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25 November 2012

Seven Days - Northumberland

Seven days of beauty and peace, of warmth and comfort, of family and salt water and the cold northern wind.  Seven days of holiday joys.  And a birthday for me.  :)
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1.  Log fire
2.  Morgan and Talia
3.  Dunes
4.  Beach pebbles
5.  Rock pooling
6.  A birthday gift from Rowan
7.  Homeward bound

21 November 2012

Yarn Along - knitting and reading and shopping and cooking

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Knitting: more lace on Jenna's green foraging hoodie, a blue cotton cardigan that is going to be too big for its intended recipient, and this gorgeous little long sleeved shrug that doesn't have its sleeves yet.

Reading: hard to keep track of...  I have finished the previous couple of Highlander books and am now halfway through The Drums of Autumn (which so far isn't as good, but I'm sticking with it, the others were interesting descriptive haunting historical-ish fantasy fiction).

I have read Ally Condie's Matched and Crossed too.  I wasn't keen though, they were childish compared to the last few teen books I've read - the one reason I do find them charming is the passion for Literature running through them, in particular poetry.  I'd give them to a maybe twelve year old, but probably not have personally found them interesting much past fifteen.  My opinion of them wasn't helped by having to actually perform a factory reset before the ereader would display more than every other chapter of Crossed...  Yay for the entertainment of removing 60 books from my "Reading Now" menu, one at a time...

Oh, and I have been both stunningly lucky and unlucky with charity shops this week.  I unwillingly left behind a gorgeous Waldorf-esque craft book with lots of pretty felting projects, and returned later with enough cash only to find it had been sold already.  On the other hand, the same shop produced a fascinating recipe book; "Feasting With the Ancestors", which works its way through a selection of historical recipes from the earliest records to the modern world.  Jenna is intrigued, and I suspect that Ancient Egyptian feasts and Classical Greek meals may feature in our history lessons in the near future (since my little chef has been insisting on an increasing share in making our family meals, mostly from the Moomin Cookbook so far).

Sharing my knitting and reading along with Ginny and friends.  :)

20 November 2012

On Getting Creative

When I started to get taller than my parents, I realised something.  I had power.  I could say, "you can't make me."

My children already have that kind of power - and they have said that to me since they were sufficiently articulate.  This is my body and I choose what to do with it.  You can't make me.  Of course, I *could* - there are many things I could force them to do, if I were willing to get into a battle of wills over whatever it is that they disagree with me on.  I *want* to give them that power - I want them to have those words - and when they use their power to refuse me...  Well then I just have to get creative.

Now I'm not talking about trying to force them to, say, eat peas.  Or put their coat on.  For the former I have, "pretending I don't notice what they eat and don't eat so that I don't stress about it" and for the latter I have "stuffing a pac-a-mac in the bag so that there is something for if they get cold later".  These are small cases, in which letting them own their own bodies is important, and the consequences are ones we will all survive, and not saying "I told you so" is the lesson in parental self-control that reminds me how much growing up I still have to do.  ;)

Then, every now and again, a bigger test comes along.

Last week Rowan decided she didn't want her car seat any more, and we had a trip planned.  I briefly fantasized about just putting her in the seat against her will, fighting her in with the justification that I was keeping her safe.  I was stuck in "two option" mode.  I win, or she wins.  What happens next?

I started brainstorming at random.  Would she like the red seat out of the attic instead?  Nope.  Would she sit in the seat if we moved it to another place in the car?  No way!  Well, did she want to miss the trip?  Tears of distress, but NO give on the car seat.  Was it uncomfortable?  No, just "for babies", and no amount of pictures of much bigger kids in five point harnesses was having any impact.  What about if we got pretty new covers for her car seat - BIG girl covers?  No.  (But she sounded interested.)

Then I hit on the genius idea that fixed it for Rowan.  Would she like me to embroider hedgehogs on her seat?  Now, she was quite set on not ever going in a car seat again, but the thought of having hedgehogs embroidered on it...  Who could pass up hedgehogs?  Not my three year old, anyway.  She picked out pink and purple felt, and went to bed happy, telling me she was looking forwards to riding in her seat in the morning.

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Sometimes it's that easy for everyone to win.

*phew*

18 November 2012

Seven Days of Mellow

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1.  Mud pie kitchen with friends.
2.  Talia enjoying a piano.
3.  Autumn reed bed.
4.  Talc footprints on the kitchen floor.
5.  Lucy and Morgan.
6.  Leaf garland.
7.  More Christmas knitting.

Some moments from my week.  Yeah, not exactly one a day again, but it's been a lovely calm week for the most part anyhow.  :)  This weekend has been magical.  :)

17 November 2012

Sparks

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The last Autumn festivals have passed, and Winter festivals are fast approaching.  I am clinging to Autumn, personally.  There are still plenty of crisp brown and red leaves, and those tiny yellow birch leaves that seem to fall in slow motion, and the skies are wild and wide and grey.

I almost can't bear for this season to pass, it feels as though it is carrying Talia's babyhood away with the gold.  November is often a good month for me, a slow steady passing into the home-and-hearth part of the cycle of my years.  The graceful letting go is eluding me a little right now though.

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