28 February 2013

Daybook when life is busy but sunny...

Outside my window - the sun is shining brightly, lighting the contorted branches of the willow tree with silver and gold. Shrieks and laughter from the children filter into the house as they put on a show on their "stage" (an old blue-painted pallet). Even the little one is running around out there with them, wearing a purple knit pleated skirt and an orange tie dye tshirt. Her fuzzy blonde hair toddles in and out of view as I stand in the kitchen with one eye on the peach muffins in the oven.

I am thinking - how necessary it is for children to get to know and love an animal. It's such a blessing to have my mum's dogs staying again. Talia hugs Lucy-dog soundly, and Lucy comes to her when she calls. (Tali calls both dogs "AMA!" but Lucy doesn't seem to mind.)

I am thankful - for the perfect golden glow of this morning, and the smell of earth, and the promise of Spring.

I am wearing - brown yoga pants and a black dress with a paint mark on it. It's that kind of day. I have my hair tied back because there wasn't time to wash it this morning. I feel slightly grey, and very sleep deprived. The first and major impact of the baby sleeping through for a few nights is that when she doesn't it feels *so much worse* than it ever did when she was waking every night!

I am creating - a blue cotton knitted cowl. I need to get on with gnomes. I'm procrastinating.

I am going - to spend this afternoon creating chaos and colour with the children. We took a magical walk in the woods this morning before Martin went to work, so beautiful and peaceful, and we were lucky enough to spot two woodpeckers (and a robin, though that was hardly an achievement since he sat on the path practically where we'd step on him, showing off and singing his heart out)! It's tempting to let this afternoon slide into another nothing day, but I've had a bit of a nothing week and I need to plan some more fun stuff.  :)

I am wondering - why at certain ages there is nothing I can do to fill these girls up! Morgan just came to whine to me that she's SOO hungry and why is food taking "for ages"?

I am reading - The Ashes of Eden by William Shatner.  Don't judge.  ;)

I am hoping - all of the happy little parcels of colour I posted off early this morning speed their various ways to their new owners.  :)  (I am also hoping like crazy that the poor pathetic broken car doesn't give us any nasty surprises, the MOT is on Monday and the work that we know about will cost about £400.  *sigh*)

I am looking forward to - finally not having to worry one way or the other about getting the car through its MOT.

I am learning - how far it is possible to make basic storecupboard ingredients go in order to scrape together car repair money. I am quite sick of pasta. On the other hand, I've been baking quite a bit to use up flour and dried fruit and seeds and tinned fruit.

Around the house - the bedrooms are feeling fresh and comfortable, somehow this morning I woke up feeling rather energetic and did some yoga (!) before putting away two bags of laundry, tidying all the bedrooms, and changing all the bedding (yes, not surprising I feel a bit crashed out now). 

The living room looks pretty much the same way it usually does, with discarded coats and books, a dressing gown, a scattering of baby toys, a couple of bits of paper, all of the tipped-out crayons, a brick trolley, the rocking chair pulled out into the middle of the room, and the red tractor abandoned where Tali gave up pushing it up and down to go play with her sisters outside.

One of my favourite things - is hearing Jenna and Morgan read aloud to themselves, to each other, to me, and to the little ones.

A peek into my day - 

Simple Woman's Daybook

25 February 2013

Spring Love! Silk GIVEAWAY

So, m'dears, did I not promise you a silk giveaway?  Um, some time ago in fact.  Glossing over the length of time I made you wait for potential free stuff...  It's Spring, at last, in spite of the grey outside today.  The willow tree is softly greening, and the birds are extremely chirpy indeed (to the disgust of my pudgy and rather unfriendly black and white cat, who watches them avidly but cannot work out how to sneak up on anything).

Have I rambled on enough to convince you?  Want to enter for a chance at owning this sweetly bespeckled pale green silk with deep pink patches (flowers, people, they're flowers, or they can be if you like!) with free shipping to anywhere in the world.  For two runners up there will also be a 10% off code for anything in my shop - to include any one custom item too, if you so desire?  :)

All you need to do is comment here.  No hoop jumping, no technical terms and conditions.  If you choose to tell your friends and/or share it on Facebook I shall be grateful, but you are not at all obliged.  I shall close the draw on Sunday night and announce the winner on Monday morning!  Best of luck, lovely friends old and new!

Edited to add WINNERS:  Stephanie Wigglesworth wins the beautiful one of a kind Spring silk.  Mama Pixie gets a £5 voucher for anything in my Etsy store.  And Danigirl and Dawn are the winners of the 10% off codes.  :)

22 February 2013

All The Highlights

Here are my children pretending to be evacuees waiting at the train station.  Morgan says to Rowan, "You're supposed to look SAD!"  I have to admit, Rowan does a very good sad face on demand.  I try not to laugh, and snap a photo.  They discuss what it would be like to leave home and stay with someone you didn't know, what it would be like to see the countryside for the first time.  It turns into a game of Narnia, which is their initial source of information about what it would have been like.

Talia finds pens and/or paint no matter how cunningly hidden.

They do love each other.  They really do.  In that sibling way that means that Talia was screeching at her just before I took this picture of Jenna being hugged as hard as those baby arms can hug.

Super-daddy had to carry two on the way back from the library.  The sleeping baby woke up in a panic and fought me when I tried to take over carrying her!

Park fun.

Big diggers.

Lemonade even though the park was SO cold!

Gradient super skein on the swift.

Chocolate covered granola.  Don't shoot the messenger, mmkay?

Fort building happens.  I hate to add weight to the stereotype, but this is *such* a girly fort.

We have seen a lot of our schooling friends this half term.  It's such a pleasure to have company every single day and for the girls to not feel quite so bereft when everyone goes home.

I'm trying, I'm really trying, to do nice things with my Jenna in particular and NOT feel like most of my interactions with her are me snapping at her and/or her being rude to me.  Shared yarn dyeing kind of worked, for a while.

At the end of this week, I'm feeling so very flat.  I've been feeling pretty low all week.  I mean, it looks like a good week, right?  The truth is, it's been hard work, and I feel like I've spent all week barely treading water. We've eaten a heck of a lot of toast.  My to do list is growing, and the only things that are getting ticked off are the things I add because I already did them and I crave the feeling that something is getting done.

Logic tries to tell me that three out of the four little ones are just in hard-work stages.  I won't have eight year old drama and cross little not-a-toddler-any-more and pre-talking frustration at the same time for very long - at the least one will start to sleep again and one will get her back teeth soon.  Logic tries to persuade me that it's the time of year.  The sun will return, and I will return with it.

Logic can get stuffed right now while I have a little pity party.  And some more granola.  And a hug with my big girl while I read her some more Harry Potter and feel, just for a moment, like the whole world isn't broken just because I haven't slept for more than two hours all week.

16 February 2013

Outdoor play, and spotting the station

We're joining in with Every Day outdoor Play this year, and although in some of the colder weeks we've not done so well with that aim, we're really making the effort now we're turning towards Spring.  Today we spent the afternoon on the park, walked home to warm up with hot chocolate, and then went out to try to spot the International Space Centre (which we've been foiled at previously by the general cloudiness).



There it is - that bright dot just about to disappear over the roof of our house!  :)

Seven Days: small details








1.  Crochet flowers
2.  Vrooom!
3.  Unhelpful but pretty snow on my drying yarn
4. Mini yarn balls, tidying up my scraps
5. Poor Tilly with waxed hair (thanks a bunch, Jenna!)
6. Morgan's space
7.  Still small :)

15 February 2013

Round and Round the Garden

Tali's favourite games are *all* tickling games.  She adores being stroked, poked, tickled, and kissed, and she screams with delicious baby laughter when we play with her.  Her favourite rhymes and songs are Wind the Bobbin, and Round the Garden.  Instead of tracing with my finger, I speak the words against her palm and kiss my way down her arm.  She puts her hand to my mouth to ask me to play!  Here she is, 14 months old, shining eyes and barely able to breathe she finds it so funny.

14 February 2013

Busy and Colourful Things

Washi tape and chocolate muffins...



Clean and tidy dresser for the first time in months...

Yellow play dough...

And Rowan's work in progress, an under the sea picture (black paint plate print not intentional)...

13 February 2013

Yarn Along: crochet on a whim

When none of my queued (or half-completed) projects jumped out at me this week, I picked up a crochet hook instead.  I popped some huge funky flower brooches in the shop, and then started on hats...

Even a baby sized one out of the left over yarn...

My book of choice is still An Echo in the Bone.  I am totally breaking my resolution to make this book last so that I don't have to impatiently wait for the next in the series so long.  It's addictive.  I love this series!

And after another long day (including lots of laundry, a cranky nursling, and a big sister putting wax in the hair of said cranky nursling), the words settle heavy in my mind and come slowly to my typing fingers.  Tomorrow, tomorrow the sun will come out.  Today, there is snow and greyness and I am so achingly tired.

Joining Ginny and friends for another Wednesday share.

12 February 2013

Daybook from a very ordinary home day

Outside my window: there are only so many words for "grey" to describe the early Spring sky on another damp and chilly day.  The cat presses her nose to the window - she won't come in, we're looking after my mum's dogs today and they are rather to interested in the cat for her own comfort.  I am awaiting  the rumble and clank of Martin's work van door slamming, telling me that he is home and our family time can begin.

I am thankful: for clean fresh water, Norse myths, a clean kitchen, small helping hands to fold laundry, cold breezes on our morning walk to the park, colourful journal pages, and warm socks!

In the kitchen: I earned myself some Good Mama points by baking breakfast muffins late last night for the girls to wake to this morning.  I wish I'd taken a picture.  They were absolutely the best muffins I've made to date.  

It's pancake day today and we've run out of lemon juice, and I take leave to doubt the likelihood of being able to get either lemons or non-metallic-tasting juice from the local shops.  

The tumble drier is humming away (I am still in frank admiration of the many large families who manage without one) and there is yarn hanging on the back of the door for want of anywhere more sensible to leave it to dry.

I am wearing: a very hippy purple dress with my green knitted tunic over the top, and a selection of colourful beaded bracelets.

I am creating: lots of little things to be finished...  I am not feeling the project love, really, today.  Last night I made a baby hat, enjoying the speed and ease of crocheting a familiar favourite pattern.  I'm quite enjoying knitting some little rainbow gnomes for a customer, but today I somehow can't concentrate on those.  I did get it into my head to knit Rowan a quick little tiny mouse, but can't find the right size needles!  Ah well.

I am going: to have to put the children's clothes away again.  It's not one of those jobs that feels particularly satisfying - I know it's work that will be swiftly, surely, and thoroughly undone almost before it's finished.  

Part of me is ready to have another proper cull and get rid of some things.  But with younger siblings growing into things so quickly, it often happens that something barely-worn will be a true favourite constantly-worn for the next child down.  I think I'm a natural hoarder, anyway, but I shy away from further attempts to reduce laundry by culling the wardrobes.

I am wondering: whether Talia is drawing in books again.  She is quietly sitting in her favourite corner, just out of sight from my chair, and I can hear a contended sighing and the rustle of pages turning...  No, she is in fact pen-free (for once) and is just happily "reading" a stack of picture books.

I am hoping: that the extra-careful food budget, using up of cupboard ingredients, and doubling of my weekly savings deposit, will actually result in us being able to repair the car to get it through its MOT at the end of the month.  I'm still trying not to think about it, really.

I am looking forward to: pancakes for tea.  A hug from my hard-working husband.  Sneaking in a bit more art play time standing at the kitchen worktop, hoarding my quiet moments (and my precious art supplies) covetously away from the treasured-but-demanding small children.  The daily reading-aloud of Harry Potter with my biggest girl at bedtime.

I am learning: more about Norse myths than my own initial interest ever carried me to (and enjoying it hugely).

Around the house: there is a large den made from three umbrellas and a chalk board taking up almost the entire playroom.  The girls have blankets and a little table under there, and have set up house.  Rowan is sitting in it right now with a small selection of her favourite soft toys - a velveteen rabbit, Morgan's old penguin (remember Baby?), the first Waldorf doll I ever made (seven years ago - her name is Lily and she is Jenna's), and a small grey toy cat.  Morgan is sulking in her bed reading a book; she and Jenna have had a falling out over something.

Jenna is now sitting with Talia, reading to her.  Talia tries to turn the pages too fast, and gets very cross when Jenna doesn't let her.  Talia is wearing a thick squishy red cardigan, and has her yellow bag with her - the dratted thing is rarely out of her little baby grasp today as she only got it yesterday.  It's a cheap kit bag with shopping centre advertising on it, a free gift we would rather have declined.  As usual with things I don't really actually want, the children adore it.

I am pondering: whether it might be possible to start getting the little ones ready for bed earlier even when their daddy is working late, because yesterday I got *so much done* after they all went off to bed early!  I don't like the idea of them missing out on seeing him in the evenings, but I did really need that quiet hour last night, and felt better for the preparation time today too.

One of my favourite things: is the rich chortle of this ticklish toddler, who comes to me with her baby arms raised and her face glowing with delight, asking me to poke her belly and play endless rounds of "Round and Round the Garden" while she squeals and whoops with joy.

Simple Woman's Daybook

8 February 2013

Things Jenna has done this week:

Just a small sample, in demonstration of what it's like to live with a fiery creative passionate unschooled nearly-nine year old...

- Used the drop spindle some more, and made some gorgeous art yarn to play with.

- Brought me drinks of water without asking.

- Baked a cake all by herself because she wanted cake.
- Pretended to be a Viking for long periods, carding wool, baking bread, making detailed costumes...

- Said "I hate you" at least twice a day, every day.

- Made delicious soup for tea, from her own recipe.

- Voluntarily hung up all the coats that had fallen off their pegs in the hall rather than walking on them (as usually happens)!

- Attempted to throw her brand new boots in the bin because she doesn't like them.

- Put on at least three shows.

- Read for so long yesterday afternoon I went to check on her thinking she must have fallen asleep.

- Made huge dens out of furniture and blankets to entertain her little sisters.

- Built many many towers of blocks for Talia to knock over.

- Went shopping with a friend of ours, and came back with gold sparkly high heeled shoes.

- Patiently taught her sisters to play Cluedo even though they kept messing about and losing pieces.

- Stood besides me in the kitchen cracking eggs for me to bake for tea - and told me how much she loves me.

- Borrowed *every single one* of my beautiful art pens, and left them on the floor without lids.

- Gave me her last piece of chocolate.

- Pushed a letter under my bedroom door in the morning to tell me she thinks I'm the best Mumma in the world.

- Painted more of her beautiful and quirky watercolours.

She is such an amazing, dramatic, busy, alive, INFURIATING creature.  There have been entire days this week when none of my carefully long-thought-out reasons for unschooling have felt like enough, and I have cried and thought that whatever it is I want for my relationship with this brave wild daughter I am failing at all of it, and fantasised about how easy it would be to enrol her in school.

I am having to keep reminding myself to be gentle on all of us this month.  I know they are reacting to my stress, too.  Oh, Jenna, I love you so much and I admire your spirit.  Remember that I'm not your enemy... and give me back my oil pastels, please?

7 February 2013

Daybook when life is grey

Outside my window - there is a rumble of a van pulling up and unloading something.  Perhaps a neighbour's grocery delivery, or someone returning home after a morning at work.  The hedge is just starting to green lightly - small fresh pale leaves announcing the oncoming sudden new growth.  The sky is a dirty white, dull with clouds, and the freshness of the beautiful Spring sunshine has turned to another cold spell.

I am thinking - about so many things that just make my head spin.  I'm avoiding thinking.  Knitting would be my default zen option at the moment, but Talia cries every time I try to pick it up today.  I am thinking today that there is too much to fit in that I really don't want to expend energy on, and not enough of the things that fill me up.

I am thankful for - colour, Spring, children laughing, chocolate cereal, journals, the husband who scrubbed the kitchen floor late at night earlier in the week, paper lanterns, wool, being beaten at board games by my big girl, chalk, and rainbow felt.

In the kitchen - the children have been baking again, and I am not convinced that their cake will rise.  

I am wearing - cinnamon-coloured yoga trousers, and a green knitted tunic with orange and red flowers.  A brown and red zigzag woven headband.  Warm socks.

I am creating - an organic baby leafy hat.  I have been promising that I'm going to pull out my yellow alpaca silk shawl, but as yet I haven't got around to it.  It's hard to knit for myself, right now.

I am going - to plan a trip to visit friends, because it has been too long and I miss them, and I need to make some wild adventures happen before we have to try to get the car through its MOT.

I am wondering - where I put the camera down.  I want to take some pictures of some little felt fairies before the light goes.

I am reading - An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon.  I've been warned that she leaves this one hanging somewhat, an I know the next isn't even due out until September this year.  I was *trying* to leave this one and pace myself, but I can't not read it.  Waiting for more books in a series I like is a kind of torture.

I am hoping - that Martin will have an easy shift and be home on time.  I am feeling paper-thin and fragile today.  Jenna had a rage this morning about being asked not to turn the oven on until I went to help her, because this box of matches isn't great and they keep blowing out when we try to light the oven with them.  I ended up crying too.  It's that kind of day.

Around the house - in the time I've taken writing this, the girls have relocated from watching the oven while their cake cooks, to the play room upstairs where they are playing with the wooden kitchen.  Talia seems to be "helping" as I've heard more than one child shout when she tips their game onto the floor.

This morning I sorted all of the girls' clothes onto my bed and have gone through them looking for things that need mending or handing down.  Rowan has far more cardigans and jumpers than one child could wear.  Jenna appears to be collecting underpants.  Talia owns quite a few pairs of trousers (but that's mostly because she still fits the stretchier of the 3-6 and 6-12 month old size ones too).  The results of that labour are still strewn on the crisp freshly-changed blue and white sheets of my bed.

The little book shelves by each child's bed are so full of favourite books I had to take several off each this morning to return to the big book cases.  I rescued a plush velveteen rabbit who had fallen under Rowan's bed, and re-hung Morgan's painted canvas.  I love spending time in their room, among their precious things, seeing their individual tastes and joys written clear in those small spaces.

Down here in my living room, I notice that the cat has been leaving mucky footprints on the window where she sits and meows to be let in.  One more thing to add to the list of things I don't want to do.

One of my favourite things - is putting the finishing touches to something I'm really pleased with.  :)

A few quick glimpses of my day -





3 February 2013

Candlemass, Vikings, and Arty Stuff


My beautiful journal prompt cards from Daisy Yellow came yesterday (Etsy shop here) and Jenna and I spent some time earlier playing with them.  Art materials - and journalling inspiration - are a great favourite to grab when life has been very up and down and I'm feeling a bit lost.  We made these pages from some paintings Jenna half-finished when she was much smaller.

The budget this month is going to be *so* much tighter than last month (planning ahead not being my strong suit, and the car needing work doing to get it through its MOT) but I did so enjoy spending the extra money from my fledgling indie dyeing business on art and craft bits, books, and one new outfit for each of the bigger girls.  Rowan's dress came yesterday too, and of course she absolutely did NOT want to save it for Easter (and who can blame her):

We are definitely in a period of high-tide learning here, too, and in spite of me attempting to prod them towards Candlemass/Imbolc crafts and activities, I instead still have a house full of little Vikings.  One of them pinched my drop spindle, and demonstrated again that she is considerably more proficient in its use than I am.  They also baked their ancient-recipe loaf, insisted on eating period-appropriate foods all day, and did some weaving once I finally sat down and set up little lolly-stick looms for them.


Oh, I did persuade them to make candles with me.  And they took very little persuading to eat candle-shaped snacks (though they were very annoyed with me that they "weren't Viking" - I pointed out that Vikings certainly would have eaten chocolate wafers if they could get them, and anyway, watching Muppets From Space after lunch wasn't a really Viking activity, either)!

Also, I have no logical reason for finishing this post with a picture of yarn.  I just love the colours.  :)