31 July 2013

Yarn Along: ambitious projects

2013-07-31 19.24.02

I recently decided I needed to dig out the huge crochet blanket I started at least a year ago and didn't get very far with - of course I've long since given away or used up half of the yarn I started it in, so I've asked around for some scraps and bought a few new colours of Stylecraft.

I had initially chosen five colours for the blanket but now it's going to be a crazy rainbow, so I'm bringing in a few new colours at a time alongside a couple of the old ones, aiming to gradually drop the original colours, so that the randomness looks like *planned* randomness, and it isn't so obvious that I entirely changed my mind for no good reason. ;)

Basically, I blame Jacqui of Hooky Delights, because her blankets are just so gorgeous.

I'm also working on a Low Tide cardigan in my bright teal-y blue-green hand dye. It truly is a case of the sublime to the ridiculous, working with a big chunky basic crochet stitch pattern, and a more intricate sock-weight knitted lace (with which I'm still at the point where I feel like whining and saying, "it doesn't *look* like anything!"). Until I grasp the pattern and really fall in love with it, I'm alternating with the mindless crochet. :)

Books: I finished The Key. It was OK. Basically Dan Brown with added mysticism. I do suspect that "OK" is rather damning, of any book, coming from my mouth! Maybe it was all the distractions, but it got the same criticism as Inferno: laboured, a bit patronising, a bit clumsy, characters I couldn't care less about... I need some more great books to read. Not that I have money for books right now.

Jenna has almost finished the first Percy Jackson book and she has hugely enjoyed it. For me it's the second reading, and although I liked it first time around I'm finding it falling very flat on second reading. Jenna *loves* the mythology, all the literary references (like the little proto-nerd she is), but even so she agrees that it's no Harry Potter (and we both also find it very annoying that although Annabeth is touted as clever and brave it's also very clear that she's mainly there to be the pretty love interest - she's just no Hermione)! I think I'm going to be hearing/reading the whole series back to back with her this year.

Joining in with Ginny and friends for the weekly round up of knitting and reading. :)

30 July 2013

Letter to my (19 year old) New Mama Self

Hey there, new mama with stars in your eyes, cradling that precious newness and measuring yourself suddenly unworthy of the blessing she is and the trust she unreservedly gives. 

Just breathe. You are enough.

You will fail at your most cherished ideals, and you will misunderstand her. You will follow ideas that seem sound and then learn to adapt all over again when those foundations slip. Even your worst days won't break you. The curses spoken over you as a teenage mother will come to nothing, and you will prove those judgements wrong, because they are speaking out of fear and their fear has no power over you. There is nothing you can't learn from, and it will be OK!

Remember to say sorry, allow your heart to be tender and soft, work to forgive and act in ways that are grace-full and gracious - she will try to become what you are. Permit yourself that same grace when you mis-step. Because you will, and it will spur you to choose and choose again, more love, more peace, more joy.

Take brave baby steps and try things out. It's perfectly healthy to try a little and see. You can decide that something isn't for you. You can take a step in a different direction. You don't need to have a grand theory or figure everything out in advance. See the big picture and don't sweat the small stuff. Most of it is small stuff!

It isn't all yours to control.

You don't need to do it all. Your baby doesn't need a "perfect parent", she just needs you. Look, truly look, at your child, how she really is. Try to observe her without filters. She is a whole person already. You are forming a relationship with her, not with the child you thought you'd have, not with a mirror or a part of yourself.

Hold her, treasure her, don't worry about putting her down, babies don't spoil. You won't disappear or be swallowed up in giving yourself freely to her. Trust that immense love, that overwhelming bond with her, there is no such thing as too much love. Listen to even the most bizarre advice openly, and think on it, but run from blindly following *anything* you are told no matter how trustworthy the source. They are not you, and they can't know your baby in the same way you do.

When she cries, and she will, it is not about you and it is not personal. She is communicating something, yes, and you can help her, yes. But sometimes the only way you can help her is to be there - and sometimes she will still cry. She doesn't hate you. Look for the need, but let the pain flow away from you - it isn't your pain to take in. You can listen better if you are not frantic with the pain yourself.

She is not you, and you are not her.

Give her chance to relate to other people, in their own way. It's not a big deal that daddy changes her nappy differently, plays with her differently, gets the words to rhymes wrong. They will find their relationship more comfortable and much happier if you don't try to take over. A lot of the fears you have about things that might damage this precious baby are honestly just versions of the fear that you are no longer in control - well, not to be rude, but get used to it! - don't put that fear on to other people.

Appreciate the small things. You already have much more than you think you do. To slow down this crazy race, simply look around you and be in this moment, here, now. Time is not getting away from you, and it is never lost, all of this time is a part of you and will be forever. The layers are beautiful. And she will *always* be your baby.

Make space for yourself too, and fill your own cup. Find those soul sisters you can tell anything to, and treasure them. A tribe will shore you up when you need it, and celebrate you when you are dancing along in tune with each other.

Surround yourself with people who speak both love AND truth, but especially with people who see the positive, can laugh at themselves and disaster both, and encourage you to go on seeking the positive, the admirable, the worthy.

Laugh with her. Say yes as often as you possibly can. Have fun together. Be her safe place. Ask what she thinks. (And for in a couple of years, you need to know this: Stop bloody correcting her. Believe me, your inner teacher will come out when she starts talking, and I'm telling you it won't help. Trust her to ask if she needs to know. She'll forgive you, though, and you will figure out how to talk without constant "lessons" coming out of your mouth.) Learn to play, run barefoot in the grass, so many beautiful things are opening to you as she opens to the world. Embrace wonder!

This is only the beginning. I know you don't feel like you're doing that well, right now, but the things that you are growing in to will change everything. Trust yourself to figure this out, one small step at a time. You are already a wonderful mother, and just the mother this child needs. Or at least, you are growing in the right direction.

29 July 2013

Random Things To Do on a Monday

- Move the large pile of mixed clean laundry, blankets, and pocket nappies from the back of the arm chair, make up all the nappies and put everything away properly. Find two books you've been looking for for months, a hair brush, and a cardigan that you don't recognise as belonging to any of your own children.

- Take everyone out for vegan milkshakes, just because.
DSC03584

- Forget to take back the library books, but borrow some more anyway. Remember to take all the children to the toilet before rhyme time so that for the first time in living memory you don't have to interrupt everyone's morning to take the toddler.

- Play with a static generating wand thingy at the toy shop, and make foil shapes float around. Find things to wonder about. Buy blueberries for snack. Go back for the library books because someone put them down.

- Admire the afternoon's creativity: a story cube by Morgan, a folding squirrel house by Jenna.
DSC03592

DSC03587

- Play a board game. Laugh. Play music, and dance. Read two more chapters of Percy Jackson while little girls run around with My Little Ponies and get shushed by their big sister several times.
DSC03596

- Celebrate the first wobbly tooth of a proud six year old.

- Laugh at a four year old's attempt at swearing: "Goodness GOSH, I told you ALREADY!!!"

28 July 2013

Derby Craft Fayre Day

DSC03559

Furthest From the Sea had a wonderful craft fair yesterday, and there I was, nervous as can be, with my stall and my little eight year old assistant. :)

My biggest anxiety about the day was child care. Martin had to work in the morning, and most of the people who Talia is comfortable and settled with were away, so we asked my brother if we could drop her at his house. (The middle ones went to play with friends.) All morning, any time I heard a baby cry, I automatically thought it was her even though I knew she was across town playing with her little cousin. My brother is an awesome uncle (case in point, he asked me to pack her a wrap so that they could all go out for a walk together), and I needn't have worried, Tali was perfectly happy - and even took a nap at the same time her little cousin did. :)

DSC03560

Yarn is, well, a bit of a niche market - and it's hard if it isn't very widely known that you're there. I wasn't sure what to expect for a really new event that's just getting off the ground, but I guessed that I'd need more ready-made stock than crafting materials.

It was a very long day too, and I was so glad of the company and help of the small sales assistant. :)  She got to roam quite a bit, because I could see along the top walk of the Guild Hall Market to The Cake Hole (where Jenna bought the most amazing vegan rocky road). She helped out at a couple of other stalls - and spent some of our profits too of course.

So it was like an entire day of mummy-daughter date, with added cake and yarn and craft stalls!

DSC03563

Sitting there, I made another baby hat (rainbow crochet with a choice of flowers). And my surprise biggest seller was actually mini skeins (well, they are cute). :) I made some friends, handed out a lot of shiny new business cards, and had a few invitations to maybe go and do workshops and classes for different groups and individuals. I met some amazing people, too.

DSC03564

Martin brought Talia to me in the late afternoon, because when he took her home she walked around the whole house checking all the rooms and looking worried that she couldn't find the rest of us! It must be very strange for this smallest one, when she suddenly *isn't* surrounded by people, as she has been for almost her entire life so far.

The short stretches of quiet and calm, for Jenna and I, seemed long. As we sat there I told her, "Sometimes during the day I *crave* moments like this, where I can just sit, and it's quiet. Tomorrow, I am going to appreciate the noise and chaos a bit more."

27 July 2013

The Best Bits

DSC03492

DSC03496

DSC03495

DSC03500

DSC03498

DSC03515

DSC03519

DSC03537

DSC03557

1. Morgan's drawing
2. In the willow
3. So grown up!
4. Calendula, finally
5. Rain paintings
6. Ready to head to the library
7. Dressing up
8. Garden sunshine/play/nature study
9. French language board game

(My excuse for the pictures - and recent postings - being not-at-all-daily is that the baby dropped my camera and now the zoom is playing up. Well, I *was* hinting that I needed a new one! Roll on pay day...)

25 July 2013

How the Kids Ruined Learn Nothing Day (AGAIN!)

Jenna first thing after waking up and turning on the TV: "I just realised the three little pigs in Shrek are meant to be German. They have German accents. On Scooby Doo the German man eats sausages - is that where sausages come from?"

And that's how my Learn Nothing Day was over as soon as it began. ;)

Rowan mixed orange paint to build a Gup. Morgan set up a book shop and put the entire series of Doctor Who books in order. Rowan and Morgan argued about whether it was permissible to make your own paper currency, and eventually decided that they would, and each would get a limited amount to spend. Morgan kept forgetting how much, though!

Morgan: That book is £600.
Rowan: Oh, I only have £500.
Morgan: OK, it's £9.
Rowan: Yay! That means I have loads of money left in my bag!

Rowan built a den with the play silks. Jenna watched Horrible Histories and played chess against the computer. Morgan helped make new labels for my yarn for a craft fayre and helped untangle a skein. Rowan pulled out her Ocean encyclopaedia, and found a sheet I'd printed off months ago about the comparative sizes of different ocean mammals. Jenna added to her Klimt collage and drew some pictures. Morgan made herself a sari.

Ah well, maybe next year we'll at least get to 9am? We totally failed at taking a holiday from learning this year... At least I get to gleefully enjoy recounting our failure, eh? ;)

24 July 2013

Yarn Along - seagreen mittens and distractions

Knitting: Low Tide in deep teal shades, a pixie cardigan which only needs buttons and ends sewing in, and these finished beauties...
2013-07-24 21c - Copy

2013-07-24 21b - Copy

(Leave These to Me by Louise Zass-Bangham in my own hand dye.)

Reading: The Key. It wants to be by Dan Brown. That's not really a compliment. I'm way too distracted to read more than a page at a time which isn't helping its case. Getting ready for a craft fair, re-skeining yarn because Rowan got her hands on it and I just couldn't bear to send it to my customer tangled, and generally not *quite* keeping on top of things. Life is just a little bit hectic. In a nice way.

2013-07-24 22d - Copy

(Next time I get a new camera I swear I'm getting one that can cope with photographing shades of green!)

Joining in with Ginny and friends again for a weekly round up of yarns and yarns.

21 July 2013

Baby Laughter

Talia has such a delicious happiness. She bubbles over with a peaceful joyful sweetness. I cannot get enough of hugging her. If she is my last baby, she has been a deliciously cuddly last baby, and I have filled myself up on baby kisses and just revelled in her desire to be held. The babyness never lasts - she smells of warmth and grass and biscuit, but the newborn skin smell is long gone. Her arms and legs are strong and sturdy, her hair just curling at the back there, her expression more intent and busy than ever.

It goes so fast, oh so fast. How did I ever spend so much time trying to put babies down to do other things?! What could be as necessary, as vital, as this?

Last night Talia giggled herself to sleep. Actually laughed herself to sleep in my arms. She had unlatched to offer me a kiss, and of course just one kiss was not enough, and I kissed all over her soft little cheeks as she laughed and laughed. I paused a moment. Then swooped in to kiss again, and the giggles started up louder than ever. As I withdrew for another round, her eyes closed - screwed tight shut as she does so often in playfulness. And she was asleep. Soundly asleep, with the biggest grin on her face.

Honestly, I feel like the richest person alive, right now. :)

20 July 2013

A Week of (real) Unschooling

OK deep breath... Want to see what we really did all week? Honestly, warts and all, on a week when I'm struggling and it's hot and nobody has any big projects or particular academic-looking cool-sounding new interests and the TV is on quite a bit? *gulp*

I've been asked a few times recently what an average day or week looks like for us, and I have to say, there is rarely such a thing as an average week. Their interests and passions change, the level of active play versus quiet role play, the amount of reading, whether there is any big project going on, what things I find noteworthy, or which activities look like "learning". My point is, it's all learning. Even the weeks that don't look like anything much.

Well, I've been writing this down as we go - and I find it so interesting that it's still tempting to play up all the stuff that really Looks like School and otherwise generally show the highlight reel even while the point of this post is NOT to do that. But I know some will find this useful, and some will find this comforting, and some will find this interesting and inspiring, and frankly some will think it looks inadequate (but hell, they're probably judging anyway, whether I post this or not). ;)

                *                *                *

Sunday: Our day started with some painting in the garden in the sunshine, followed by watching two episodes of Doctor Who. Morgan's painting of a rainbow dried really quickly. I think it may be the first time she painted or drew a rainbow without asking in which order the colours go. A lot of running around and several different role play games - which are the background to our entire lives - Hogwarts, being mermaids, Victorian children, and pretending to be animals are the current favourites.

Then we went to a friend's house. Morgan and Jenna remembered from grandma's house how to find middle C on the piano, and how to make the chord of C. Morgan helped make gravy from scratch. Rowan played with (and disassembled) a toy car wash, and Jenna played on a James Bond game for a couple of hours.

Some weeks, Sunday is the day when the kids often go in for a full-on day of questions, experiments, exploring and so on. Not this week! It was really what I'd think of as an entirely average Sunday in a house with children. :) Since we don't have the frame of reference of school days and weekends, or term time and holidays, and the children aren't accustomed to seeing learning as something that happens at certain times in certain places, there is every chance of turning up on a weekend and finding a full scale science fayre or maths texts all over the place. It happens. Quiet weekends are pretty rare for us, anyway, and I rather relished this one.

DSC03323


Monday: We usually head to the library, but the Mister had taken my bank card to work with him so we had to wait in. The bigger girls built a den in the garden, Rowan came and took over the laptop to identify two butterflies she had seen in the garden. Jenna asked one of her deep questions ("Could anyone have stopped World War Two before it happened?") and we ended up discussing appeasement, trade sanctions, the League of Nations and the UN.

We went out to sling meet, and walked into town from there to catch a bus home. A friend came back to play. The kids all watched a lot of Horrible Histories, and Jenna played a level of Big Little Planet then read two pick-your-own mystery books back to back. She played a while on Pinterest and eBay with me too, she wants to decorate the house for her birthday party next month and has lots of ideas.

DSC03490


Tuesday: Jenna played on Big Little Planet for the entire morning, building a new level and playing co-operatively online. Rowan and Morgan pulled the den down in the garden, climbed the willow tree, and played the sink/float game in the bath with practically every toy they could find.

We headed into town for a treat and I gave the two older ones a £10 allowance to spend on anything they liked. Jenna bought three books (one of Greek Mythology, a current favourite interest, and two H2O Just Add Water books, a cutesy tweeny mermaid TV show they watched on Netflix a while ago and still rather love) and a pick and mix. Morgan bought a dot to dot book, a pack of Sylvanian babies, a world map, and a Disney magazine.

After flopping on the sofa at home and playing with the new things we did a quick tidy up before my mum's dogs came to stay, then went to the children's church club where there was a sort of sport/activity trail and the children scored points for scoring hoops with a basketball, number of skips in a minute, dart score with six darts, and so on. Jenna got two more RSVPs for her birthday party. Talia tried to escape the building twice.

DSC03337

DSC03491


Wednesday: Jenna and Morgan both took a long turn on the spinning wheel, eventually getting the hang of it enough to produce a few metres of very slubby orange yarn. Jenna read two of her new books while Morgan and Rowan watched some cbeebies (and Rowan had one of her massive world-ending meltdowns about my inability to take her into town again today), then they made popcorn together and sat eating it listening to some folk music I put on at their request.

Then they all ran around in the garden with playsilks tied to their wrists, and when I went out to check on the dogs the girls were all sitting under the willow tree playing families with Talia wrapped up in a silk being their baby. I took them out a picnic of veggie sausages, red pepper, pears, chocolate spread on digestive biscuits, and the little teapot and cups to make themselves tea. Talia got hold of the chocolate spread and Morgan took her upstairs for them to get a shower together while I put away some clothes in the next room.

When we came down (with three children wrapped in towels) Jenna had put Big Little Planet on and was playing a difficult level she just got on to. "I wonder if the Japanese had a Sushi god?" She thinks out loud. Wikipedia tells us that Inari is the Shinto god/goddess of rice, and Uke Mochi was goddess of food. Hmm, close enough for Jenna apparently. When the little ones shed their towels we all did some melted wax pictures with the iron and everyone spent some more time flopped all over the living room with music on, just too sticky to move.

Most of the rest of the afternoon turned into a game with the My Little Pony toys. Jenna spent another hour building on Big Little Planet while I did some spinning and Talia had a proper nap for the first time all week. The LEA lady I had declined a visit from arrived, and was turned away (I'm very glad Jenna knows not to let people in even if they flash a badge)! Jenna also went out to her drama group.

DSC03340

DSC03348


Thursday: We're all still so tired in the sticky heat. Nobody much feels like doing anything very active! Rowan and Morgan played in the paddling pool, and Jenna made tape sculptures. Everyone did some building with coloured ice blocks I'd frozen last night, and painted with the frozen cubes on watercolour paper. Talia particularly enjoyed playing with a giant frozen watercolour block in the shower afterwards. As far as planning craft activities go, once a week is pretty average for me, even though we all love art and crafting - most of the input isn't me and my ideas any more. :)

Doctor Who (three episodes from the Tenth doctor) and another go on the spinning wheel each. A big monkey platter of cheese, boiled eggs, and salad veg for lunch, followed by iced chamomile tea with lemon juice. Morgan helped me to hang out the washing, then asked me to do some maths with her (four pages of a workbook aimed at older children). Jenna stood in the kitchen doing the background for a Klimt-inspired collage she has been talking about making all week, and making one of the projects from her Ruby Loves magazine. We made sunprints when some new blue photographic paper arrived in the post. "Why do they have to be washed to make the colours work?" asks Morgan, and Jenna explains better than I can.

Morgan and Rowan started a game with a basket of shells, playing mermaids, and counting the shells into groups as I have done with the little ones before. Rowan stood every single wooden figure out on the shelf and they ran around having conversations between the little figures for a while. Jenna had a book of British Birds in hand and was looking up the precise colouring of Blue Tits so that she could draw one. Talia decided it was nap time, so I nursed her to sleep. ("Booobieees!" she wails mournfully when I don't pick her up quickly enough.)

We turned down an invitation to the park, Jenna read some Octonauts books to Rowan and Morgan read the creature reports (first time I recall her reading aloud in at least a month), we all watched the 70s Alice in Wonderland (again), and everyone helped make dinner: spaghetti with oven roast vegetables. Some spaghetti fell on the hob and the children moved it to a plate to watch it burn. Lots more running about playing. Jenna held the bobbins so that I could ply my spinning while we watched TV together. Jenna went to bed very late taking a torch and one of her H2O books with her.

DSC03397

DSC03402

DSC03403

DSC03408

DSC03416


Friday: Another slow start, including the dreaded shoe hunt. Museum morning - painting story stones, making pet rocks, and a letter trail to find pictures of semi-precious and precious stones (eventually spelling BLUE JOHN). The art gallery on the top floor had new things, and the children inspected some of the new collections and art work. Lunch with friends. Home via Oxfam to buy shampoo, and a cheap packet of toothbrushes from another shop to replace those that Talia put in the toilet earlier. In the taxi on the way home the children sang a French counting song until I asked them to stop repeating the same thing over and over!

At home it was still baking hot, so we set up a fan in the living room and filled the paddling pool in the garden. The children all lay on the floor to watch Grandpa in my Pocket with Rowan, then played in the pool a while, mixed up some interesting concoctions ("perfume" apparently) with flower petals and grass and seeds and so on. Morgan had another turn with the spinning wheel.

Jenna worked on her Klimt picture. Morgan played castles with the Ostheimer toys. Rowan mostly ate ice cubes. We started listening to some music on Spotify and I remembered a track I wanted to show them with a great video, so we looked it up on Youtube and sort of fell down a rabbit hole trying our own stop frame animation. :) Jenna wrote a very sweet miniature letter to her Daddy, in tiny but not very neat joined up handwriting. Martin got home early for candle lighting.

DSC03421

DSC03428

DSC03436


Saturday: I spent a while reading and ignoring what was going on in the garden, which when I checked on them turned out to be a water fight and a big mess of wet picnic blankets. The girls put on a dance show for almost an hour, and I gave my full attention to about fifteen minutes of it overall. I could hear the music they had on, from the kitchen sink where I was doing washing up (and soaking wool for dyeing), and it spanned a very eclectic range of styles!

After that they wanted some help with the stop frame animation they were planning, and I spent a very hot sticky half hour balanced on a stool taking photographs for them. Morgan did most of the actual animation bit on the computer with me.

Morgan built a huge rainbow castle. The children made their own soup and sandwiches for lunch. Jenna put Big Little Planet on again. I asked her to play with it muted, because the music from it is starting to grate now. Morgan made story dice and wrote a story using that inspiration - or more accurately wrote a sentence then drew pictures for the rest of the "book". Everyone worked together to tidy the living room again.

DSC03454

18

A not-quite-entire week of things I managed to write down. Yes, I know I am mixing past and present tenses through the entire thing and bits of it are totally disjointed. No, I am not putting myself forwards as having it all right or setting out a plan for anyone else's kids. This is just a brief record of some of the ways in which my children are learning, snippets of our unschooling journeys right now. I almost certainly missed important things out, and rambled about unimportant things. :)

17 July 2013

Things that are Not News

It's hot. It's sunny and pretty but also baking and sticky.

Baking and sticky little people are grumpy as heck and sometimes whine and sometimes scream and sometimes make my head ache, much as I love them. They also often stay grumpy until LATE. (And sometimes they make themselves a nest at half past ten and fall asleep in an improbable position.)
2013-07-16 22.08.43

But ice cold water and yarnie parcels and crafting distractions can make all kind of goodness from a day I'd really sooner forget! (I know it really is too hot to be knitting or spinning, and my hands stick to the roving, but it *is* lovely weather for dyeing roving and being elbow deep in cold water rinsing the stuff!)
DSC03341

DSC03350

15 July 2013

Weekending: shade-seeking summery

This weekend my middle brother and family had arranged a birthday party on a local park for my little nephew Joshua. They picked the perfect shady spot under the trees, and we had just such a beautiful day chatting and celebrating.
DSC03292

DSC03286

The children wanted the giant lollies, then quickly got bored of them and left them in cups for me to "look after" while they ate practically their own body weights in fresh fruit and ice cubes.

DSC03289

Six fruit skewers, this tiny human consumed, SIX! Some days she just seems to eat nothing at all, and yet some days she will easily eat an adult portion of something she thinks looks tasty. Today she didn't want food at all, until she spotted a salad someone had left at sling meet and sat eating all the onion off it. Yes, I know, I'm a terrible mother because my children forage/eat sweets/gorge on random things/don't eat enough. ;) I tell you, letting go of the idea that I need to control everything that goes into their bodies has been a very liberating process!

The garden is pretty parched, but the roses still bloom gloriously and perfume the air. The willow tree provides just enough shade to sit out there in the mornings and evenings.
DSC03312

DSC03302

I'm not all that keen on very hot weather. Which is practically sacrilege to admit in a country that makes complaining about the rain a national sport. I like the shady crisp cool depth of Autumn. I'm a bit melty and grouchy right now. I'm glad for the bright beautiful days and the outdoor living, but I need a fresh breeze in my hair to be entirely happy with the weather!

Sunday morning I had one of those moments where I realise I've been too preoccupied, busy, and sticky-hot to offer anything new and exciting for a few days, so I got the paints out in the garden for the three smaller ones (while Jenna was still off camping with her friend, and apparently wallowing in a huge muddy puddle!) - I fully expected them to end by painting themselves and each other, and of course they delightedly did. :)

DSC03301

DSC03316

Then we visited a friend for the afternoon. Jenna and Jeremy spent some time shrieking with delight and allowing the younger children to use them as floor cushions, and Talia mostly experimented with the piano (and was *very* surprised by the sound of the trumpet). It wasn't a quiet afternoon, but no less welcome for it. None of the children wanted to head home to bed in spite of the lateness of the hour and the necessity of getting a lift while one was on offer!
DSC03329

DSC03332

This week is already looking like another busy and outdoorsy one. I'm definitely starting to feel a bit more positive and like I've turned a corner out of the long and difficult month. I can't remember feeling quite this light-hearted for a while. :) Maybe all the sun is doing me some good after all.