30 June 2013

Seven Days at home

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1. Wheels
2. Cuddles
3. Undyed
4. Breakfast
5. Baby
6. Lego men
7. Candy rainbows

29 June 2013

Unschooling Saturday

Jenna is watching Horrible Histories, and enthusiastically explaining one of the more obscure jokes to Morgan. She has a grammar book open on her knee that she has been doing exercises out of. I don't even know where she got the book from. She has a bag packed at her feet because she's going to spend the night at a friend's house. 

Earlier we spent about an hour talking about the justice system in this country, where our laws come from and how degrees of crime are considered based on their impact. At lunch there was a man in the restaurant wearing an evolution of man t-shirt, which Jenna casually referred to in conversation. Another example of how it's possible to pick up a fair depth of knowledge from all kinds of casual interests.

Morgan is being a waitress, taking drinks orders in a notebook. She seems to have spelled everyone's names correctly for the first time ever. This morning she spent a while doing crossword puzzles. She has decided that it's her turn to make dinner tonight because she loves macaroni (both the making and the eating of).


Rowan is building a crazy lego vehicle and she's made a really detailed engine block for inside it out of all of the twiddly lego button and lever pieces. She's absent mindedly reaching down to the bowl of grapes sitting next to her, popping one in her mouth, then reaching back into the lego box for another piece. I'm surprised she hasn't accidentally eaten any lego yet, totally absorbed in what she's making.

As soon as we got up this morning the girls started the synonym/antonym game. One of them chooses a word, and asks for either a synonym or an antonym, and they keep coming up with words that are close enough in meaning until one of them can't come up with any more. They kept up "angry" for at least ten turns. *impressed*

When it Flows (from Just Add Light and Stir)

28 June 2013

Just Breathe

When the children pull out all the things they can find and make a huge happy mess when really you're feeling tired and sick and just don't want to deal with it. Just breathe.

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When someone snips off a tiny bit of the baby's fringe, and you can't decide whether to yell or cry, and you end up doing both. Just breathe.

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When the lego finally gets picked up and then the baby comes along and tips it all out again just as you were sitting down with a cup of tea. Just breathe.

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When you have to remove the baby from the windowsill for the twentieth time that day, and she gets right back up even though she's fallen off twice already, and she falls again and is still crying when the stark naked toddler answers the door to a stranger while you're cradling sad injured broken-hearted determined climber. Just breathe.

When the car breaks down and the garage ask for more than it's worth, and then the laptop gets dropped on the same day, and you worry that the finances are always *just* on the brink of disaster. Just breathe.

When a sister throws a book, and another sister has a bruised nose, and everyone is clamouring and shouting and crying all at once, and they sob into your shoulder that they hate each other. Just breathe.

When the dinner gets spilled or the cat sticks her face in the pan as it cools or the children are all hungry again five minutes after eating and there is nothing to be found in the cupboards that doesn't involve more cooking and you can't even think about it. Just breathe.

When it's all so much EVERYTHING and it never stops and you just don't have any answers and the world is on your shoulders... Breathe.

This is not how the world ends. These small things that pile up, they hurt and they wear away at you. But the world keeps turning and there is always always always a smile and a kind word and a flower and something small and sparkly, something good.

Maybe the answers will come. Maybe they won't. Maybe you will find the energy to pick up and make meals and pick up and soothe frazzled small people and pick up again. Maybe you won't. Maybe hugs on the sofa, and pyjama days, and a movie with popcorn, and takeaway chips will be enough. Maybe it's enough to just keep breathing.

23 June 2013

Seven Days - more ordinary rainbow days

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1. My entire yarn stash
2. Four year old + pink pony = happy!
3. Cheeky baby with a turkey pinwheel
4. Drawing on each other with watercolour crayons
5. New shoes (and the baby blanket is just *too* small now!)
6. A Rainbow Road
7. Dining table back in place

20 June 2013

This Child...

This daughter of mine, with her scabby elbows and knees and constant climbing of things and dancing every step she takes!
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She has put Doctor-themed post-it notes all over the house. One I found the other day said, "Tick Tock goes the clock." One by her bedside reads, "Pleas come and take me to the stars!" I found this one on my bedroom wall:
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She asked to have her hair cut short this week. Everyone keeps saying how much older she looks, but I think she looks much more like her sweet four-year-old self again! She's preparing for another show with her drama group, and rehearsing songs over and over. Here we are heading to drop her off for yet another long rehearsal. I've enjoyed packing substantial and interesting snacks for her long sessions, vegetable sticks, raisins, smoothie pouches, popcorn, and of course bags of sweets to share with the rest of the cast. :)
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We half thought that theatre classes would be an outlet for all the drama, but as much as she *loves* it we still get passionate-full-on-Jenna only now with added jazz hands. ;) Tonight's the first performance. I bet she won't be able to sleep until midnight!

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She's also quite the little gamer at the moment. She's on the verge of completing Myst Exile, loves designing levels on Big Little Planet for her sisters to enjoy, and talks non-stop about ideas for characters in the imaginary games she's going to invent some day. Wonderful, interesting, complex story telling goes on here, and lots of art work, all from an enthusiasm for a couple of computer games (I lose geek points for using dismissive vocabulary about gaming, I know)!

When did her legs get so long? When did she get so smart? No, wait, I know the answer to that last one, she has always been smart... She's really definitely not such a little girl any more, though.

18 June 2013

Simple Daybook - hanging out at home

Outside my window there is the sound of the neighbour's hedge being trimmed, reminding me that ours is well overdue a "haircut". The children are all in the garden, and I'm taking a few minutes to sit in the quiet and drink a whole cup of tea without being interrupted (maybe).

Jenna is at the top of the willow tree, bright blue tshirt and orange shorts making it easy to pick her out at a distance. Rowan has a little party of My Little Ponies on the blue pallet; she has plaited Pinkie Pie's hair and Rainbow Dash has a neat bun tied up in an elastic band. As counterpoint to this cutesy scene, Morgan is making mudpies right at the back of the garden, jumping in the puddle she has made - that's another pair of canvas shoes in need of a wash...

I am thinking that there is something really centring about a peaceful home day after a couple of very busy days out and about. 

I am thankful for wise woman friends who encourage me to grow.

In the kitchen there is a big bowl which was filled with hot buttered popcorn for snack (the favourite food of the moment) but which is now standing empty but for a couple of unpopped kernels. I put sweet potatoes in the oven to bake for tea and have chopped vegetables for ratatouille.

I am wearing a brown floor length skirt and a dark green knitted tunic dress, red shoes, and a painted slate pendant.

I am creating... um... still those red socks. But if it counts, I merrily reskeined some of my hand dyed yarn this afternoon whilst watching a couple of episodes of Warehouse 13 with a tired-out-from-long-rehearsals Jenna.

I am wondering whether Martin is aware that he took my bank card to work with him AGAIN today...

I am reading, well, I'm not reading anything at the moment actually. I just finished Mirror Wakes, which I enjoyed, but I feel like I'm waiting to be grabbed again. I have Raising Hell (
Christianity's Most Controversial Doctrine Put Under Fire) queued up to read on the computer - looks interesting.

I am looking forward to seeing Jenna perform again towards the end of the week. She's so enthusiastic about her shows with the drama club. :)

I am learning how to handle the niddy noddy so I don't get in a tangle!

Around the house: The living room is a light scattering of shoes, a discarded toddler dress, the odd few sea creatures, a baby trike, and some of Jenna's painting bits and pieces. The kitchen is still beautifully spacious and I'm loath to put the table back in again in some ways. The little flower seedlings on the window sills are getting quite big now, Rowan is so excited for them to start to flower! 

Some of my favourite things... sunlight on little-kid curls, delicious chai, stripy baby trousers, the warm damp green smell of summer rain.

A peek into my day...
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Simple Woman's Daybook

17 June 2013

Weekending: Fathers, Firsts, Fire Engines.

Another busy weekend, two days of making the most of family time. Lunch with family, a rare chance for my dad to get all of his children and grandchildren around the same table (and perhaps a first in that he didn't pay!).
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A little boy who is unbelievably ONE already. (The little cousins sweetly helped each other get up to mischief - offering a chew on the window blinds at the restaurant, throwing toys on to the floor, and copying the sitting-in-the-toybox-game.) :)

Paul and Maarja's apartment is full of interesting things - they found these antique tins on their last trip back to Estonia (where amongst other adventures Joshua apparently tried to eat a snail, as if to prove that it isn't *just* my children that do things like this).
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Walking along the wall at the church at the end of our road. Their service starts just after 11am, which is convenient for those of us who had a lie in and a fried breakfast in token acknowledgement that it was Father's Day.
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Then on to the Rescue Vehicles show; old fire engines and a chance to try out the big hoses themselves - and a Lancaster fly-past, "Just for me!" the Mister joked.
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Candyfloss for Roo. I am finding a great deal of joy and freedom in being the mama who says "yes". Yes, let's have candyfloss, yes, you can wear three outfits layered crazily, yes let's have popcorn for dinner, yes, let's get out Christmas decorations and have a party! :)

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16 June 2013

Seven Days - more everyday happiness

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1. Jumping
2. Truffles (Jenna made for Martin)
3. Wheel
4. Park in the rain
5. Custom colours
6. Carrots on my kitchen window sill
7. Saturday morning breakfast

15 June 2013

(More) Things You Never Thought You'd Say Before You Had Kids

"Yes, there IS a little yellow slug in your tap shoe. Go shake it out, then!"

"Look out for your sister, it's not kind to kick her in the head when she's sleeping."

"Take that mummified dog off your dad's dinner, please."

"Talia baby, can you take the plant outside? Thank you!"

"Where is that burning smell coming from? Do you *have* to make potions in the kitchen?!"

"Dog water is for dogs. Get your face out of that bowl!"

"These packets of pants don't belong to us, they belong to the shop. Kindly take your hands OUT of the pants."


14 June 2013

Wet Picnic

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The Arboretum is one of our favourite places to take a walk to, and it's a nice easy walk from our house (it takes me about fifteen minutes alone, though once children are factored in it's closer to 45 minutes). We arranged to meet Em and Connor for a picnic, and, well, I wouldn't say we exactly picked the best day for it...

On the way there, the weather was mostly cool and breezy, with the sun just shining on us often enough that we thought we probably wouldn't need our coats. Alas, just as we got there the rain began in earnest...

So sad - a wet Bookcrossing book left on the park!
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Walking around and enjoying the old trees wasn't terribly appealing in the rain, but the children cannot possibly turn down a good play area no matter how wet. We weren't the only families mad enough to brave it, for once, though all the parents had that weary "why us" expression as the rain got heavier and heavier.

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The constantly-hungry (and very wet) children were keen to have hot chocolate and chips in the community cafe even after the amount of picnic they consumed.

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On the way home the storm began in earnest; near simultaneous thunder and lightening, and large hail stones bouncing right up off the pavement, so we were drenched! It was still a fairly warm day, so not all that uncomfortable apart from the odd stinging hailstone.

I pay lip service to getting out in all weathers and needing time outside, but we rarely more than pop into the garden when it's this wet. It was really not as bad as my usual reluctance to get cold and wet would suggest. I'm not sure the kids will be keen to repeat the wettest picnic we have ever had, though!

I'm so glad I packed waterproof coats - the baby slept all the way home, warm and dry cocooned in her snowsuit (and the sling). :)

12 June 2013

Yarn Along: stacks of books at my bedside :)

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Knitting: I just finished turning the heel on the Toots socks. They're lovely, and coming along nice and quickly (so satisfying to knit little things). I'm not being very perfectionist about remembering where I am with the lace bit, oh gosh, I can't keep my eye on the pattern with our days being as busy as they are and as soon as I put them down I'm lost!

Reading: I got The Long Earth over the weekend and read it in one sitting. I had read a lot of negative reviews and decided not to bother with it, but you know, when you see these things being practically *given* away... I loved it. The only criticism I can really get behind is that this one incredible book would have easily made twenty incredible books - there is *so much* packed in there.

(I also got 2000 Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting through ages and stages, and read that in one go too. The opposite applies - this one has been so talked up, everywhere, and I found it really simplistic and expected a bigger book somehow. I'd call it a good basic introduction to concepts.)

Oh, and I'm half way through Mirror Wakes. Guess who is doing a *lot* of reading in the garden wrapped in a big woolly cardigan this week? This is the state my bedside table is in right now!

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Sharing along with Ginny's Yarn Along again this week. :)

11 June 2013

Daybook when simplicity is pleasing and easy

Outside my window the sun is very bright, but the air is cold and fresh and there has been a light misting of rain on and off through the day. It has been a day for wandering in the garden, where the vegetable plot is looking wonderful in spite of only three beans coming up and the cat digging up the onions (EVERY year, honestly).

I am thinking it's time to go collect my two biggest girls from their mid-week club at the Church on the corner.

I am thankful for afternoon baby nap times, beautiful fluorescent yarn, being friends with my daughters, my mum's dog sitting contentedly on my feet, and popcorn.


In the kitchen there is still some paintwork left to be finished (the bits I can't reach without the step ladder, which is a terrible idea during the hours I'm in sole charge of the little ones). We have too many plug sockets - having lived for so so long with just two! The only annoyance right now is that my scales have gone missing in the great moving of boxes and it's slowing up a yarn order (and means I can't easily bake).


I am creating toddler socks - red cabled toddler socks. I have made several mistakes in the cable and lace, but I'm guessing my littlest won't notice or care, and I'm not having the kind of week that allows for perfectionism. :)


I am going to the Arboretum to meet friends this week. That's my grand plan for getting us out and about at least one more day this week without spending money!


I am wondering whether it would not have been wiser to make more cookies this afternoon when we made one giant cinnamon cookie to share. I could happily consume more cookie about now. I am also wondering whether my children are going to start showing chicken pox or not, as today is day 16 since exposure and I've conscientiously kept them away from baby and toddler groups for two weeks now.

I am reading Mirror Wakes (the second Laenan Kite book) and not getting far, with all the distractions. I can't complain, I've read two other books this week from cover to cover (mostly by staying up later than is truly sensible because I couldn't bear to put them down).


I am hoping that I can arrange some more opportunities for the children to see friends, as our restricted outings have left Jenna feeling a little lonely. My little extreme extravert...


I am looking forward to a big squishy parcel of sparkly sock yarn for dyeing. :)


I am learning, oh, quite a few things this week. Some Morse code, some 16th century history, some Norse mythology, and techniques for sock knitting and knitted amigurumi.


Around the house: the cat and the dog are warily watching each other now, uncomfortable companions while my mum is having building work done.

Morgan is emptying Jenna's leather satchel on to the floor (I'm sure that will please her sister!) and Rowan is sitting in the middle of the living room wearing only grey spotty tights. She has a crispie cake the big ones brought her back from their club. Talia is pressing the on/off button on the playstation. Excuse me while I go and remove her!

The spinning wheel in the corner of my bedroom is getting a few minutes' use every day as I figure out tension and start to figure out a good treadling speed.


I am pondering this quote from the Radical Unschooling group: "If you can only see the obstacles, then your journey won't be easy. Be like the water, finding its way around the rocks. See the openings, the possibilities." (Robin Bentley)

One of my favourite things is peanut and salted caramel ice cream. If I have just introduced you to this concept, I am *very* sorry. ;)

A peek into my day:


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The Simple Woman's Daybook

10 June 2013

Weekending: Wollaton

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We have weekends at the weekend now. The strangeness of a new routine again, and figuring out how we organise our days. Old rhythms creep back, a kind of normal reasserts itself. We spend weekends exploring, together as a family (and of course, these days, frequently ferrying Jenna to and from rehearsals for another show).

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The summer heat has changed to breezy fresh days again, sun and shadows, blue skies and grey. It's good for me to be getting so much time outside. I so easily forget that the cure for most of our bad days is simply to take our lives into the garden.

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It's going to be a while til Martin gets his first pay packet, but perhaps that too is good for us. Right when I have to choose between making life easier by throwing money at it until everything settles down, or working on creating a positive atmosphere at home and setting everything up to be simple and frugal day to day, there is no money to throw at it.

I am left with changing how I think about what we need, finding things to do for free, making up picnics and snacks from scratch, and making home as good a place to be as I can. Not being able to run away (or, for example, get a taxi in to town and buy stuff we don't need), I am instead making it nicer to be here.

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Simple is just fine, right now.