31 May 2013

Seeing it as an Adventure

Town to meet Grandad Roland seemed like the best idea this morning. The kitchen refit has sort of stalled since they couldn't contact the guy who is meant to fit the floor, and he seems to have ordered the wrong size. (On the other hand, the electrician changed where he was going to fit sockets to suit how we use the room, and the plasterer has also kindly skimmed three areas of old and wonky plaster work that he didn't technically have to do at all just because I asked him if he would mind!)

Anyway, you know, buckets of wet plaster and boxes of wiring and screws seemed like a really terrible combination of things to be trying to keep Talia out of. So we went out. Waiting for grandad is fun when there are steel drums and The Ram to climb. (I used to freak out at them for climbing this, even though I certainly did as a teenager, but I'm doing pretty well on the chilled-out-mama side of things right now. It's a huge great lump of concrete, what exactly do I think they're going to do to it? I'm hardly freaking out over the height of the thing. Anyway, no freak-outs today - or recently.)

We had hot chocolate at Thorntons and played I-spy. Rowan said she could see something beginning with C ("see"). We tried some hard c sounds, and then some s sounds too just to be sure, and eventually Martin thought to try "chair". Yup, she meant chair. And told him how the "ch" sound is written.

A trip to the charity shops ended up with us buying a couple of children's books and a packet of post-it notes which I imagine will be stuck all over the house on Monday when Martin starts his new job and I am casting around for something fun and new. This will be the first time in several years that the Mister will have a *very* full time job. I'm a bit scared of the sheer full-on-ness of four mostly at home mostly on my own (to begin with anyway, because the kitchen refit will still be unfinished and I'm waiting for the children to develop chicken pox since they were exposed a week ago). I'm mostly happy and excited though, I like change and the chance to grow new rhythms. :)

Heading back home, there was a busker playing a Hang, and the children were mesmerised. He kindly let them try it out (brave of him, given how expensive and rare they are) and after about half an hour we reluctantly left for our house (happily with his CD duly purchased).

The kitchen fitters are now done for the weekend, leaving us with a cooker, a very plaster-y sink, and one plug in point. Camp dinners are the order of the day, and lots of one-pot food with minimal chopping of ingredients! It's another adventure, I guess!

28 May 2013

Weekending: laundry, gardens, and more rambling

My sweet peas are growing up an assortment of twisted sticks, dried out contorted willow and Rosebay Willowherb stems. In front of them are carrot and calendula - the very raised raised bed and the calendula being this year's effort to prevent carrot fly getting wind of them.

I love growing veggies, and I so want to be the kind of person who carefully weeds their raised beds and produces crops season after season. Like my desire to have a beautifully tidy house, my dreaming rarely provokes much concrete action (though as well as planting more veg seeds AND weeding the garden, I did also clean out two kitchen cupboards and clean the bathroom this weekend)!

Jenna has been staying with a friend this weekend, and Morgan has been away to Scotland and Cumbria with my mum. It has been a strange couple of days, with just the two little ones. I found two children pretty intense hard work, all those years ago. And now, I find myself casting around for extra things to get done *quick while I have so much tiiime*...  I used my holiday chicken fabric to make Jenna a cute skirt. I'm making the most of these years while she is still perfectly willing to allow me to sew geeky fun clothes for her, because she may not indefinitely.

This is what Morgan was up to on Sunday:
morgan holiday with mum

morgan lambkin
Ack why must they grow so fast??

My neighbours think we're weird. That's fine. We kind of are. Our garden is wild, and covered in children's toys, and there are often (loud happy) sounds of children playing during the day, advertising the fact that they don't go to school. One neighbour frequently tells me how lovely it is to hear them play, but also hints that they might enjoy the garden more if it were tidier. The other neighbour gives my children packets of crisps over the fence, having noticed that they are always "soo hungry" and quite probably thinking that I don't actually feed the poor little dears.

Anyway, come summer, they get to judge the stains on my laundry too. *sigh* Any pleasure I feel at pegging out the rows of sweet little clothes, and reassure myself that the sun helps to bleach them, I also feel like I am exposing my lack of housewifely ability to scrutiny.

And, well, they know what it is I've been doing instead of cleaning things. My washing line is far more frequently used for things other than laundry...

26 May 2013

Week in Pictures - quick-growing







1. Painting
2. Fish
3. Growing so fast!
4. Fern
5. Carrots
6. Friends

24 May 2013

What Happens in the Flat, Stays in... oh OK then...

Ashleigh's place is the Flat of Yarnie Wonderment. What happens when two wool addicts gather together in a place where yarn is stored, spun, and loved? Well, I came home wanting a drum carder, for one thing...


I made my own art batts, from some of Ashleigh's beautiful roving collection. I knitted companionably and we both finished a thing or two (an octopus flew off her needles, you've already seen what I got done). I got some expert help with figuring out my new spinning wheel while the children slept on the living room floor.


And I tipped out a huge portion of her stash in the name of finding scraps for a baby bonnet (and "helping" her to "organise it" - also known as "shall I take some of this off your hands?"). I came home with three skeins of pretties to add to my own stash - oh OK, and some mini skeins and other bits that sort of leapt into my basket at her local yarn store...


I also couldn't resist laying out the hexipuffs-to-date progress of her Beekeeper Quilt. I may or may not be collecting sock yarn scraps now. :)


23 May 2013

Summer Exploring


That's my family all the way up there!

Talia was utterly livid at being left behind on the ground with me, and tried every trick she could think of to climb up and join them. For her three sisters, this was the highlight of our little jaunt to Yeovil to stay with Ashleigh again. For Talia, this was an outright insult, and she only stopped ranting at me when she realised that I was buying icecream. She took mine right out of my hands, and enjoyed it thoroughly.




The National Trust always provides us with interesting places to explore, too. The magic of the old empty stables and sheds is the thing that always calls to these little wild ones. Rowan found a working hand mill in one, and spent a merry half hour telling us she was grinding flour for bread.


That picture just about sums up the entire day at Barrington Court. Jenna and Morgan running ahead engrossed in a game, Rowan trailing along behind wanting so badly to join in. I have yet to come up with a fair way of handling this new exclusion...

Jenna and Morgan found a sheet of questions aimed at older children and determinedly found all the answers but one - in trying to guess the length of the great hall they had decided to count their own strides as a metre, and overestimated somewhat as a result. The volunteer on the desk was impressed they attempted it, and was really pleasant in how she explained their mistake on the length question.



If you're in the area, also stop by the artisans in the outbuildings, and I'll accept the blame if you come away with some of Josef Messar's woodcarving and a bag full of fabrics from the most incredible little sewing shop...  (I have *bee fabric*. And CHICKENS! And rainbow sheep! Must. Sew. Pretties.)

Whilst exploring a cider orchard, Talia blew her first dandelion puff. She tried licking it too. Her verdict was that it is definitely better to fuf the seeds, because they are tickly and don't taste good. Take note, people!


It's so good to go and explore new and different places for a week. I really *feel* our distance from the sea, here in the Midlands, and long for beaches to ramble and the smell of the sea. The children whoop with joy and run in to the water (which is, as you might expect, absolutely freezing), bring me piles of stones and shells, climb rocks, and tell me how many different varieties of seaweed there are. (Morgan: "hundreds and millions... but we can oooonly find ten kinds!")

Finding sleeping space for all of us around a tiny little flat is always interesting, and Ashleigh is an extraordinarily patient friend to welcome us for a week of such mayhem (and assist in constantly trying to persuade the children to tread lightly indoors, because the flat below cannot appreciate the herd of elephants racing around on their ceiling at six in the morning).

We spend almost all of every day there outside, exploring, running around in the fresh air. Beaches and wild places, my very favourite way to spend a holiday.


"Mummy mummy! I went in the sea - all the way in the DEEP END!"


Perfect. :)

22 May 2013

Yarn Along - Finished Things


I made these long wrist warmers based on a photograph a customer sent me. I adapted a pattern to her measurements and the style of the picture she sent, and dyed mini skeins in lovely rainbow skittles colours especially for the project. They knitted up in about two days of spare moments, and would have been quicker if it were not for going out one day and *horror* forgetting my knitting bag!


I just finished Beyond the Rainbow Bridge today, and liked it as a really clear introduction to Waldorf thinking. But like most full-on Waldorf things it leaves me torn between thinking that it all sounds so nice - and feeling this unpleasant sense of restrictedness and legalism that straight away leaves me wanting to rebel and play video games and eat junk food. ;)

I feel so drawn to Waldorf; both as the kind of idyllic childhood I actually had and loved, and because of the emphasis on nature and art. I am hungry for beauty in my surroundings, and love natural materials and texture and lots of light. I feel strongly that Waldorf thinking and radical unschooling mesh in so many places. Yet over and over again I meet (and often bump right up against) the dark side - the perfectionism, ultra-false niceness, control and coercion, a rigid idea of the One True Way. Not so much in this book, by the way, just meandering... At least when I crash right in to the less pleasant elements of unschooling, there is rarely either false niceness or coercion (just a kind of, OK, don't agree with me, bye then)!

Ha! Derailing my own post - and in such a way that nine tenths of my readers will be annoyed with me! Awesome!

(The other book pictured is a perennial favourite to re-read, this time aloud to the Mister.)

Other projects finished this week: Kelp, and the Summer Love Shawl. :)




19 May 2013

Seven Days - Grey and other colours








1. Charcoal pictures
2. Sepia sleeping babe
3. Almost finished!
4. Grey in a week of blue
5. Walled garden
6. Here Be Newts
7. Hello Mister Magpie!

15 May 2013

Yarn Along - The Unbelievable Sleep-Climbing Baby

OK so this is what I'm actually working on today:

Rainbow wrist warmers. And that's the book I just finished, Mirror Dreams by Catherine Webb which I enjoyed hugely overall (and she wrote it when she was fourteen, which I can't help be impressed by given the number of books I've read written by adults that *sounded* as though written by a fourteen year old)! I likes the random fantasy book series finds. :)

I'm not going to show progress pictures on the shawl. Needless to say it's still not *quite* finished and it's still not blocked and you can just wait til next week when it will be both.

Anyway, the "and a funny story" bit. Last night I was doing dishes in the kitchen while baby napped on the sofa. I hear a whimper and the start of a cry from the living room and thought, uhoh I'm going to be interrupted now. Then nothing. So I didn't go to check on her.

When I came back through, this is what I found: Baby, asleep, hugging the shawl. Clearly mama smells like sheepy squishiness and vice versa.

More impressively, this is what she had done (halfway sleep, remember) to get to the shawl!

Yeah, I have weird kids. And also, yes, Martin and I laughed and took pictures before rescuing the poor tired darling.

Joining in the Ginny and friends for the weekly Yarn Along share. :)

14 May 2013

Being Here Now - and curve sculptures

Jenna and I love to play on Pinterest together, and often come away with ideas of artsy craftsy projects we want to try. (It's such a great inspiration to me - as a very visual person - that any time I have a really GREAT new idea or suggestion the children immediately ask, "Did you get this off Pinterest, mama?" *sigh*) This is one of the ones she picked out with an "ooh" of appreciation the last time we browsed together.

Building and Creating with Curves

Recently I've been finding my parenting challenged by the priority-pull of running a business. You know, things like trying to nurse the baby whilst filling in my first ever tax self-assessment form (in the dark, because I couldn't reach the light switch!). Things like knowing that I have a deadline for a big order, and not having enough hands, and then realising that I've done so much "work" stuff I haven't properly attended to my commitment to help them follow *their* passions. I've said, "later" a lot - and "can I just finish this?" OK, not just a lot, actually more like almost all of the time.

I've been thinking through what I want, and how I want to model giving gracefully to others, and how I want to be present with them and set aside time for working so that I'm more available at times when they usually need me more. For the last couple of weeks I've been trying to challenge myself to say yes, to turn my attention to them fully when they speak to me, and to take action *now* rather than always putting things off for someday. The latter is a tricky one for me, queen of procrastinators.

The net result has been that my kitchen has never been tidier, and I have got so many things done *before* the looming deadlines. I have done art projects, answered questions, got messy things out, gone for walks, and read aloud every day. Often right when I was asked to. (This extends to the poor obliging Mr, too. I think it has come as rather a shock to him to find me not doing other things while he's trying to talk to me, and pausing in the middle of a knitting project to make dinner rather than moaning about why he still can't cook after all these years.)

Anyway, once more slightly off topic and rambling on rather than talking about the fun stuff!


We're going to paint them too. When they're dry. Which might take a while, because squirting glue was Rowan's favourite bit. That and messing about with the cardboard tubes...


Wish me success in my quest to find more hours in the day, and generally be a slightly less distracted more pleasant person to live with?

13 May 2013

A week of Sunshine and Rain








1. Friends out for pizza
2. Boo just hanging out
3. Blossom
4. Laundry in the sun
5. Fronds
6. Jeweled window pane
7. Drizzly town morning: sad toddler in a happy dress