29 January 2014

Yarn Along: plain shawls all the way!

I finished my stunning handspun rainbow gradient Quaker shawl:
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Then knit another in Noro for a friend:
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And now I'm about to start the lace border on my plain shawl (I think I'm going to use the lace from Oaklet as it's free and easy enough to add or remove repeats). :)
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(And I'm still not reading much. Tonight's the last chapter of The Deathly Hallows with Jenna, though!)

Joining in with Ginny and friends again.

28 January 2014

Touching Base

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Quaker stripes, growing.

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Creative play, spreading across the floor.

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Chatting, sitting, learning, building, side by side Minecrafting with Morgan.

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A Rowan with her little purse, singing a song about baby's day.

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Dressing up, and dancing, as always.

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A program about Penguins to watch, and a funny baby bringing some to me as I knit.

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Mean kitty, scritching. Sweet sad baby, snuggling.

Compass points and grid references, Ariadne's string, playing at libraries, skateboarding in the muddy garden, baking a banana loaf and eating it, symmetry play and mandalas. Toddler trying to colour in a dining chair, slicing carrots for snack times and sorting all the story books. A four year old making letter shapes with tree blocks, and a nine year old reading stories from South America. Anime and Asgard and The Lorax and planning for Chinese New Year.

Connecting, playing together. Going with the flow.

Just another home day.

Belated Seven Days

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1. Little Red Riding Hood
2. Nazca drawings on Minecraft (nerdy cuteness)
3. Morgan outside A and E (all fine!)
4. Post-museum climbing with friends
5. Hail and thunder
6. Cranachan
7. Another rainbow shawl

25 January 2014

Brilliant Books (plus storms, shows, and sewing)

Today has been one of the most changeable days.

Mum told us that our favourite book shop was in the process of closing down and had reduced everything to £1, so apart from the sadness of it no longer being there after today we obviously all wanted cheap books. We came home with an amazing haul, thanks to my mum offering to buy!

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(That isn't even all of it. We totally took advantage of her generosity.)

Rowan was a bit unhappy in the shop, as grandma had said she was buying books not toys. Rowan moped a bit before choosing a sewing kit which just about met the criteria of "not toy". Martin and I were so busy looking at books we didn't really notice just how cross and fed up Roo was getting until we got out of the book shop and Rowan erupted in to full on meltdown about wanting a toy and needing to go to the toy shop next door. With just enough money for parking, we said no. Martin carried Rowan, who was shouting, "I WANT TO GET A TOY!" back to the car, where she started screaming, "I DROPPED MY SEWING KIT!" Martin retraced our steps. Someone had picked it up and taken it home with them.

At that point it all came flooding out. She had wanted a toy "because I can't read yet!" and she was cross with us for ignoring her in the shop and she just wanted her sewing things back. I apologised for not listening, and she readily forgave me (which generally makes me feel more guilty than if she'd stayed mad at me).

So much up and down (and shouting) in the first part of our morning often leads to a generally fed-up-with-each-other day, but this popped in to my head: "the next moment is a whole new chance at something good"! [Su Penn via - and paraphrasing - Sandra Dodd] And it was. We read some of our new stories. I made her up a new sewing kit from felt and yarn I already had in the house. 

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We watched the most incredible storm. Rowan and I spent a happy half hour looking through months of Sunday Sweets on Cake Wrecks. :)

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We went to see Jenna's drama group show, and I packed all the fun snacks I could find in the house.

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So now we're watching Spongebob and winding down for the night, the two youngest babies snuggled up falling asleep on our laps under the rainbow crochet blanket. Today has been filled with really wonderful moments (and Jenna was such a lively happy little star along with the rest of the children's chorus). :)

24 January 2014

This Toddler

This toddler...

...flings herself head first off furniture and anything else she can climb.

...shouts "two, two THREE!" in warning that she is about to try something dangerous.

...is instantly totally devoted to any animal she meets. Especially my mum's scaredy rescue dog Lucy, and our obnoxious guard-cat Izzy.

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...brings life to a halt by climbing in to my lap and shouting BOOOOB when she is tired.

...likes snippy scissors, which we have a hell of a time keeping out of her way. This week she snipped the back cover out of one of our Horrible History books.

...says, "oh sheet" when she breaks something. (Oops.)

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...climbs in to my bed at an unmentionable time of the morning and stays there snuggled up until she hears her preferred entertainment downstairs (sisters). Sometimes she even climbs on to their bunks and shouts at them to WAKE UP until they pay her attention.

...cries for Jenna any time Jenna goes out, or any time she doesn't hear her calling. Big sisters are better than mummy for hand holding on long walks, especially.

...eats more macaroni cheese than any of the adults in the family.

...has favourite favourite toys including: Jenna's doll, Rowan's rainbow dash pony, Jenna's miniature Daleks, and my knitting needles.

...is still babied and adored by all of us (of course). :)

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23 January 2014

Simple Daybook on another slump day

January stretches on, plans are frequently getting reassessed as money is tight, and we are all just a little bit crotchety with each other. Today seems grey. The rain turns the garden to mud. The children bounce on the bed, and fight over whose turn it is to have a bath, and eat digestive biscuits with chocolate spread, and complain about the lack of apples (when I had to throw away three half eaten ones I found on the floor yesterday). There's nothing really wrong. Just the weight of days.

Outside my window... the rain is pouring down, cold and heavy. The roof tops glisten darkly and the hedge is garlanded with silver. The willow tree waves bare contorted branches, and the mud gets traipsed in every time we venture out. The slightest sign of budding leaves will be greeted with celebration here!

I am thankful... for hot chocolate, siblings playing together, crochet blankets, and central heating.

In the kitchen... the left over crusts from the middle children's sandwiches show evidence of peanut butter and strawberry jam. Bean chilli and roast sweet potatoes are cooking for tea, in the slow cooker and oven respectively. The floor badly needs mopping after garden expeditions.

I am wearing grey tshirt, red and brown floral skirt, and a shawl.

I am reading... Story of the World again, to a nine year old who asked me to start reading a chapter a day aloud again. Cast On Bind Off for knitting reference. Nothing much for me, I ran out of books again.

I am hoping... that fruit and nuts and yummy organic chocolate from Approved Foods come today. I would really like to have some more interesting snacks to offer these always-hungry children.

I am looking forward to... Jenna's drama group show over the weekend, going bowling with local home ed families again, Spring seaside holidays, and pay day (ohh yes indeed).

I am learning... to accept and find joy in the slump days and to gracefully relinquish planned outings when there is no money for the trip... And a new bind-off for elastic edges to my rainbow shawl.

One of my favourite things... is planning craft projects and rearranging my Ravelry favourites and queue!

A peek into my day (yesterday, when we walked to bowling, met friends, and generally had a very busy day of randomness)...
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22 January 2014

When in doubt...

...cast on another shawl.

*blushes*

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This is the Quaker Yarn Stretcher in my handspun rainbow gradient, plied with hand dyed teal sparkle sock yarn. :)

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I'm not reading anything this week. I'm watching Firefly and Star Trek Next Generation when kid time allows. And I'm generally drowning in laundry again. January is dragging a little now, and the spring time cannot come quickly enough for me!

Joining in with Ginny and friends. :)

21 January 2014

In Which I Mostly Handle Things Badly

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There are some days when it just seems impossible to get anything right. The children were so excited about the stargazing event at the weekend. And then each one of them in turn melted down over things like "all of the activities being babyish" and our stubborn refusal to "make the clouds go awaaayyy!" In the end, we had to go home early with three of my sweet little people crying (believe me, I did NOT feel much like they were "sweet" at the time).

Rowan has also been using her banshee wail when things aren't going how she'd like them to. This week, the scream has been brought out when I couldn't find her pink pony, when the popcorn wasn't cooking quickly enough, when she wanted Morgan to stop talking to her, when Daddy was at work and she wanted him, and several other occasions. It isn't exactly a rage-scream or a hurt-sad-scream, it's a pure "MAKE THIS HAPPEN NOW!" thing. Unfortunately for her, the universe doesn't bend itself to her will, and sometimes I feel more like slapping her than helping. :( High pitched noise rage. It hurts my ears, and sends me in to a panic. :( I think the best chance for me to keep parenting calmly is going to be earplugs, to be honest.

In the meantime, I'm trying to assume positive intent, and taking myself out of the room when the high-pitched shriek is happening.

Today there was a sibling row over, of all things, the fair sharing of eggs for sandwiches. I got stuck, and ended up backing myself in to a "what I say goes" corner. Over sandwiches. I mean, we're all fine, and didn't exactly fall out over it, but sometimes it's the simple little things that are the hardest to think clearly about. I'm not feeling terribly proud of my parenting skills right now.

There are times when parenting is just plain hard work. I'm doing well, in so many ways. In other ways I'm pretty much improvising, trying really hard, and mostly muddling through. There are days when I scream, and days when I cry, and days when mostly I just laugh at the overwhelming beautiful messy frustrating chaos.

If all I can do is keep breathing, and even remember to laugh at myself occasionally, we're probably doing OK, right?

20 January 2014

Weekending

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Stargazing event, during which it was too cloudy to see any stars!

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Sunday jaunt to Bramcote park, woodland walk, play area, and hot chocolate after our late night.

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The Holocaust memorial garden.

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Sundial! (Including Roman numerals to jump on.)

Yep we're still here, still exploring and creating chaos. Still not getting much sleep, and crafting as a kind of all-purpose antidepressant and housework evasion combined. :) Still writing, just mostly in an assortment of journals. So many thoughts, so little coherence. ;)

15 January 2014

Yarn Along

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Maze Runner series, and a simple shawl in silky hand dyed yarn.

Not very well today, but plenty of the above to keep me company! Joining in with Ginny and friends for the weekly sharing of knitting and reading.

11 January 2014

Random snippets, ordinary days, unschooling randomness

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Yup, my rainbow babies at it again with the random outfits. Talia is totally obsessed with holding hands at the moment, preferably with a sister rather than me!

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Things I found in a bag Rowan was carrying around. Any time I empty anyone's pockets around here I find strange collections - recently I bumped against Rowan as we walked along and found that her pocket was surprisingly heavy. It was absolutely *stuffed* with sticks. Plain, ordinary, stubby, heavy, slightly muddy, sticks.

Question: how does the contents of the bookcase end up on the floor Every Single Day? Answer: this little pickle did it, gleefully, and then ran away when I asked her to put them back! :)
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When the children had a friend round for the day we did some baking. Ugly, but delicious, macaroons. A first for us! They were fiddly, but worth it. Next time, I'm going to remember not to put them so close together on the baking sheet...
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Jenna bean, spinning. At eleven at night.
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The time of evening at which she heads to bed is so variable. It's interesting how different they are, and how their needs change as they get older. Rowan has recently started asking to be taken up to bed much earlier than she used to, and Morgan often goes up at the same time. Jenna sometimes reads in bed, especially if Martin and I are watching a film she isn't interested in. Sometimes she needs time without sisters around, especially when they haven't been getting on so well or if she has had a very busy outdoor-type day.

How she spends her evenings surprises me a great deal. She doesn't usually want the computer (which she often uses for long periods during the day) and tends to be very creative in the evening, or pick up a book. Right now she's past halfway in A Series of Unfortunate Events, and just finished re-reading Coraline. We're reading The Deathly Hallows together, and we're so closed to the end, it will be the end of an era when we're done with that series (we might have to start over again)!

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Lots of fort/den building has been the order of the day while I've been so so tired (not enough sleep for mama!) and Rowan has been full of beans with lots of ideas she wants to explore and projects she wants help with.
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Evidence of the constant Minecrafting - this week Jenna has been looking at ways of mapping contours and representing different biomes in her own sketches, and she's started keeping a square-ruled design notebook for her ideas for block creations. It's entirely normal in my house right now for discussions to quickly skip from programming commands, to grid references, to birthstones, to engineering "floating" structures in real life.

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Yep... This is a picture of my children sitting on the shed roof. The neighbours are horrified. Sorry, neighbours. They love to climb.
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Museum session creations (and a cheeky grin).
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Jenna introducing Talia to The Clangers. Additions to Talia's vocabulary: "Soop Gag-gn" [Soup Dragon], "Canger", and "scary"! (She constantly asks Jenna, "Canger sad? Canger funny? Canger scary?" I think she wants to know what they are saying to each other!)
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Almost two weeks of randomness. :) Facilitating the craziness isn't getting any less like juggling, just now. And tiredness is leaving me a little cranky and generally not very up for getting out and about as often as usual. Sleep will happen eventually. In the meantime, I'm trying to go with the flow and let the chaos just happen around me! :)