29 November 2013

Simple Daybook after illness

Outside my window the sky is turning to dusk. I can see greying brown of roof tops and the rustling green of the hedge as it blows in the icy wind.

I am thinking through shopping lists and plans for crafting, yarn yardages, and what we will have for dinner tonight. Lots of disjointed bits of things that need doing, or finishing.

I am thankful for the changing of the seasons and festival lights. I am thankful for comfort food. Busy children. Birthday gifts. Decorations. And that Martin will be home soon!

In the kitchen chicken stew is simmering. It smells good - I might manage to eat something! There are dishes piled up. So much remains undone when I'm ill. I wish there was a washing-up fairy.

I am wearing my grey dress, with teal leggings. Hair pulled back again, it's long and heavy and I had that urge to cut it all off again today. I don't trust my judgement with scissors when I'm feeling so shaky, otherwise I'd have done it!

I am creating a fat little knitted rainbow cat, mostly. Bits of other things being finished off, and dye work, but mostly plodding away with stripes for the cat. :)

I am wondering why it is that the baby turns into a sad little limpet right when I least want to be touched.

I just finished reading The Bone Season and I don't care what the critics say, I loved it. Fantasy, easy reading, complex alternate reality, escapism; I'm happy.

I am looking forward to a few days of Martin being off work, family time, and chance to get the house in order. I'm also very much looking forward to Advent activities.

One of my favourite things is the frost-smell of early mornings in Winter. It just feels like Christmas.

A few plans for the rest of the week: more Hanukkah lights (in spite of baby trying to smash up the candles), decorating the house, a birthday party, finishing advent plans, and more rainbow stripe knitting.

A peek into my day...




28 November 2013

In medias res...




My Latin has left me,
which may be as well.
They were brute engineers
and their afterlife, hell.

Only one tag stays:
a bird with no wings.
'In medias res'
in the middle of things.

I am weighed down by parents,
made mad by my child.
The late sky is sleeting
the garden is wild.

I slump on a chair
in the last glow day brings.
In medias res
in the muddle of things.
[by Alison Brackenbury]

I never learned any Latin, and my parents are far from burdensome (as for the maddening and delightful children, well I really wouldn't have them any other way). Nevertheless, even on such festival days, the poem is apt. The muddle of things. I do feel like I am flying from one muddle to another, interrupting every clear thought with action. There are perfect moments, and ones I'd rather skate over, and I am so so tired and done with illnesses.

When I press the "call" button on the phone base to locate the handset, it beeps. Talia immediately drops whatever she is doing and runs to press the timer button on the oven, to add to the cacophony of beeping.

We have friends over for latkes, and dance a barely recognisable hora, and sing and laugh and laugh.

The children pull out every blanket in the house and build a den in which they argue loudly over dreidel and chocolate coins.

The cat mews to be let in and the children rush to the window to admit her, with Talia's chorus of unacknowledged "cat, cat, cat, cat" - she repeats words until we say them back to her. She also answers, "yesh" to almost any question. Her siblings gently tease her with it. (Hey, Talia, do you smell of poo? "Yesh!") I love the chatty baby words; it is far from tiresome as yet. (Although she did just come and drop a My Little Pony in my cup of tea. Thanks, child. "Pay!" She says. This is as close as she comes to "Pony".)

I sneak away for a bath in the evening, and one by one they come to find me, to talk about their respective days, their hopes and dreams and loves. I smile, probably somewhat wearily, and rejoice that they seek me out for all these little details of their lives.

Rowan (singing, for about the hundredth time): Hanukkah oh Hanukkah, come light the menorah!
Jenna: Shut uuuup!
Rowan (in a wounded tone): What?! I just love Hanukkah!

Ah, you know, all the chaos is wonderful in its own way. Happy holidays, all. Maybe one day soon I'll be able to string a coherent post together, eh?

26 November 2013

Fluff to Yarn (plus more mama fails)

Wildcraft Cosmos BFL, 200g of the stuff, from the lovely Ashleigh who likes to keep me well supplied with fluff to spin. :) :)
In spite of that photograph, there was really SO much blue in it - I expected a very blue yarn, with little bits of pinks, purples, and brown/yellow.


Shortage of bobbins and lack of a Lazy Kate require me to ball wind the singles after the twist has been left to go stale overnight. Then I can ply from the balls, no bobbins spinning and whirling across the floor, and no family member required to hold the bobbins threaded onto a large knitting needle for me while I work!


I plied it on my birthday, and have yet to decide what to do with it.

The start of this week has been exhausting. I helped the girls put on a party for Doctor Who Club, and after foraging cake out of the bin (AGAIN! I mean, seriously, is there a way to lock my kitchen dustbin?!) Talia was sick all night. Today I am just back to feeling like I'm failing all of the things all of the time.

Rescue plan: a cup of tea, a good book, and somebody else being in charge of the living room tidy up. I'd add sleep to the list, but...

24 November 2013

Some of my Week

At sling meet on Monday I was asked how home education works. I wasn't really sure how to answer such an open-ended question. I rushed out something about living as if school didn't exist, following interests, and not being sure if it's Always Summer Holidays, or Always Education, because we mostly play and muck around with things we like, and live life together, and find learning everywhere.

I tend to worry that either this sounds like no education at all (explaining some of the, "you must be brave," comments), or whether it sounds like I wait for "teachable moments" and pounce with a lesson (explaining the frequent, "I could never be that organised!").

It isn't like it can all be explained and categorised, either. Sometimes I find that they know things that weren't even on my radar as possibilities.

We "just live" and "just play" but really there is no "just" about it.


Here the girls set about making Fimo beads after a Doctor Who Club craft required just a small amount from the packet. I didn't suggest using the left over bits, but they had clear ideas! One of the pendants they created is apparently "a key that can open any lock". (We also spent an afternoon getting utterly covered in PVA glue making some papier mache, but more about that another day.) And why yes indeed, my children *do* wear dressing up costumes more often than ordinary clothes...

Tree blocks, the day Jacqui and Rye arrived to spend the week. Blissful crafting time while the children played together wonderfully, and introduced Rye to Minecraft. I wish I'd referred to this photograph when trying to work out where in the general mess my other bobbin had got to! Ah well, I tracked it down in time to do lots of spinning the day our lovely guests headed home.

Leaf kicking, and leaf throwing, on the way to the park. Drifts of crisp golden brown. :) On the park the children ran laps of the courts (as usual), inspected the cheerful graffiti art panels, and took a closer look at the work going on to install a bike track. That should be fun, come Summer!

Isn't that just the iconic Autumn picture? Oh my pixie Morgan, there is such a wildness about her sometimes; the way she turns her face to the sun, and that fine windswept hair.

Poorly Morgie-girl! And more Minecraft for big sis who is pretty much alternating her time between that, writing plays, journalling, and playing endless Greek-Mythology-related imaginary games. She also made my very yummy chocolate and peanut butter birthday cake.

Things we learned from Minecraft tangents this week: how to find out how deep a mine is, and from there exploring xy graphs, decimal places, and minus numbers. She also planned and built monuments to the Greek pantheon in creative mode, causing much debate about whether this building material or that is more suitable to honour Hephaestus/Artemis/etc. She worked out that her structures were not identical in size and soon figured out plans for conformity using area and volume calculations I am sure I remember her declaring "too hard" a year ago. I'm not sure if Jenna is aware that she is learning maths by stealth playing this game. She has declared she hates maths since well-meaning relatives tried to coax her to add up and told her she "needs to learn maths". (Morgan, of course, views children's maths text books and workbooks in much the way Jenna does journals and novels.)

17 November 2013

Seven Days








1. Sonic screwdriver magnets for Doctor Who club
2. Games with a friend
3. Martinmas lantern
4. Productive afternoon
5. Peace and quiet
6. Foraged
7. Night time park again!

16 November 2013

Autumn at Attenborough




crisp yellow of willow
grey clouds
the nip of frost in the air

baby quacking at the ducks
wrapped up warm in knits and coats and mittens

kidlets, mama, grandma, great grandma
hot chocolate and cookies
shades of slate ripple and reflect on the lake
and that moment of total stillness

Magical Learning Moments

We are finding reasons to get outside *almost* every day. Particularly memorable was last weekend's jaunt up to the giant star chart, in the pouring rain. Martin and I hunched defensively against the freezing wetness, while the children danced and sang and spun.

We read an assortment of Hindu stories and made rangoli patterns out of coloured rice, lentils, and sugar last week. The children are fascinated with Diwali (and in fact, many festivals belonging to other faiths), but this year I have spent Autumn dashing from one of their interests to another, facilitating and supporting, and have offered very little in the way of ideas and suggestions myself. As a result I almost completely missed Diwali this year, it was a good job there were related activities at the Museum stay and play sessions!

The girls are playing on Minecraft quite a bit (some days an hour, other days several hours, the occasional rare day with no time at all). Jenna made colourful Octonauts for Rowan. They do very sweetly take turns and also often play cooperatively. (Unfortunately they also "cooperated" in creating a great deal of mayhem last week, which at least they did duly help me tidy up over the past couple of days.) :/
Jenna heard a reference to William Blake's The Tyger in a program I was watching whilst knitting away, and I ended up putting my project down and looking up Blake artwork and poetry for a while. She put a couple of favourites in her Main Lesson Book - and didn't freak out when all the little sisters did some liberal helping. :)

Talia is keen to do whatever the others are doing at all times. Distractions in the forms of Poisson Rouge android apps and threading beads have come in handy this week. She is also talking a lot, she has just so many words.

Remembrance day came and went, marked by Jenna with poppies in her Main Lesson Book. She seems to be back to wanting to fill these lovely big journals with interesting things, always of her own choosing and in her own preferred style. It does make me smile a little, how very much like how I imagined the books would be used, and yet so different.

This week there have been songs about three dimensional shapes, drawing around objects on squared paper to work out their area, dressing up as Tudors, weaving, baking cookies, writing about the Solar system, the elements song, a board game about survival scenarios, matching games, Venn diagrams with string and objects, dressing up as My Little Pony characters, speculating about life on other planets, Poirot, den building, and designing what Christmas decorations we're going to make when we get some more felt. Funny how much wonder and creativity and discovery can come out of a week of relative utter chaos!

12 November 2013

Want a List?

Things that have gone wrong today:

Android tablet dropped in the toilet (thanks baby).

Chocolate spread *everywhere*, and a one year old eating it with a spoon.

Flooded bathroom. Leaky kitchen ceiling. Every towel in the house soaked.

Baby taking her nappy off to poop on the floor.

Gave up on the soup I'd planned for lunch and made toast. Burned eight slices.

A whole lot of herbs and spices poured out in wonderful sensory play.

The muddiest children I have ever seen after an hour making mud pies.

Mobile phone dropped in the cat's water bowl.

Re-skeined all the tangled cotton threads. An hour later found them unwound again.

Baby covered in pink paint. Where the frack did she get pink paint?

The last bit of garam marsala I had managed to rescue from the chaos, tipped into the sink by Roo - also, coriander added to the fruit I had stewing in the slow cooker. Tea was going to be curry, followed by stewed fruit.

Ten kiwi skins picked up from all over the house.

And that's not even mentioning the laundry pile of epic proportions... I give up!





It's OK, I just about retained my sense of humour. They had a wonderfully happy day. Me, not so much, but at least I was calm enough (or resigned enough?) not to do my very good and rather terrifying impression of a raving lunatic.

Tomorrow is another day, right?


11 November 2013

Week on the Edge








1. Painting experiments
2. Fireworks
3. Knitting and reading
4. Mantle
5. Tired
6. Sparklers
7. Park

Late, and not one a day, again. The weeks are sort of flying by right now. I'm elated and our days are beautiful. I'm struggling and our days are chaotic. Both statements are equally true.

We are on the cusp of winter. Talia is wearing hats (finally)! We are seeing a lot of our friends. Life feels full, full of activity, full of meaning, full of creativity, full of each other (sometimes maybe even too full).