31 March 2014

Sunny Picnic Afternoon

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The sun has been shining down from blue skies this weekend. We took our house guests to the park for a picnic, and Martin and Ashleigh and I all got significant baby-squishing time with little Violet. Talia calls all our visitors by each others' names, indiscriminately. She also pronounces "Leanne" rather like "Jane". Extra confusion - especially when I manage to call Cerys "Rowan" as I did this morning!

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(Yup, my toddler has a bubble-mix-and-sand mustache in that picture!)

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Rowan was removed from the very edge of the duck pond no less than seven times before she succeeded in her apparent aim, and fell in.

She also discovered that there is a nice echo in the toilet area.
"Mummy! It sounds like there are lots of you!"
"It does! What would you do with lots of mummies, Roo?"
"I'd find out which one was you and then I'd either kill or drown the rest."
O-kaayy. Adorable and rather creepy.

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We didn't walk far, just around the science garden areas, and then back to the car. My dad came and picked up enough of us that we could get home easily in one run. Picnic salad left overs were turned in to stir fry for a late tea, as we settled our crowds of children down for the night.

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I am so hoping for more sun this week, for the back door to be perpetually open for garden games and outdoor meals. There are six children and three adults in this little house right now, and it's wonderful, but we all prefer to not be cooped up for long!

Much like the chickens... Talia is daily setting them free to range unsupervised, and I am daily chasing them and rounding them up. I think the fuss and chaos is the most entertaining thing my monkey toddler can imagine!

30 March 2014

Seven Days - Rainbows and Visits

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1. Rainbow
2. Gymnastics
3. Lots of eggs!
4. Sister-wearing
5. Roo writing notes
6. Cerys meeting the chickens
7. Rainbow visitors

25 March 2014

Yarn Along - some solid coloured merino knits, for a change

So, on an otherwise pretty stressful day earlier in the week (grumpy toddler induced), I finished the black garter stitch slouchy. :)
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And then cast on chevrons (fingerless mittens, without much of a plan except to enjoy using some bright solids, and to evade the horribly delayed second Low Tide which I'm still procrastinating over):
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I am also desperately looking forwards to a peaceful few minutes when I can finally make a start on my new book! So far this week I haven't been getting much reading time (but in the evenings Martin and I have managed to watch a couple of the Avengers movies since we're SO behind). We're starting to get some evening time together, and Talia is sleeping longer - but still getting up crazily early of course. *yawn*

Joining in with Ginny and friends again (early, for tomorrow!), for a weekly round up of our knitting and reading. :)

23 March 2014

Seven Days - Springing!

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1. Daffodil love
2. Hueys and odd socks
3. Fierce debate over Minecraft
4. Grandma to the rescue with tiffin!
5. More dye days
6. Carcassonne
7. Community gathering fun

(Yes, I am indeed going to bed very late. Again. Talia is still waking up very early and then grumping/clinging a lot of the day. So I am mostly staying up until midnight to get work done and just sit knitting WITHOUT being needed and touched and talked at by the crowd of lovely small people. And then when Talia wakes me, I curse the staying-up-late-ness and vow to go to bed earlier. Like, earlier, when she does. Yeah. Watch me do this craziness again...)

21 March 2014

Simple Daybook

Outside my window - the sun is shining brightly on a garden strewn with the children's loose building supplies, laid out in their usual configuration of something between an obstacle course, magical creative play structure, and warehouse yard. Earlier they were playing pirates, and the pallets connected by boards were boats sailing on a distant ocean. Telescopes in hand, the wild daughters sighted enemy vessels and evaded capture, and pulled the drying bedding from the line for goodness knows what nefarious purposes. (I suppose that latter is my fault, as I seem to have misplaced ALL of the pegs again, so everything was merely draped rather than firmly pegged down!)

The sky is such a blue. Changeable and often chilly English Spring still comes in the most perfect colours. The blue of this sky is saying, "Summer is not so very far away, you know."


I am thinking - of dye combinations and colour and the sheen of silk. My mind is full of plans and lists, orders and inspirations. It is a day for doing, for turning the kitchen upside down with dye pots and mixing colours and a sink full of steaming-hot yarn.

I am thankful - for my dad buying chicken feed for us and my mum offering a box of cereal for snacks. For always having an abundance, even when we have so struggled with lack. For healthy happy children, and all the time I get to spend with them - for the friendship between us, for being so comfortable with each other. For the strength in my arms.

In the kitchen - there is yarn drying everywhere. I dare not hang it outside when the children are so liberally spreading dirt everywhere they go! There is a sweet potato curry made and ready to warm through for lunch, and the table is stacked with piles of packaged-up books I am clearing out. Challah is rising in a large ceramic bowl, in the sunshine.

I am wearing - a turquoise flowery tunic which Ashleigh bought me when she was treating my children to hooded jackets and new shoes just before we went to London. Brown trousers. Comfy battered boots. My yellow amber and rainbow glass beads. Unruly unthethered brown hair damp and wavy from the shower.

I am creating - a slouchy black garter stitch hat is still in its ribbing stages, and I have almost finished making leaves for an enormous turnip (which comes with its own - also completed - brown textured knitted "dirt" drawstring bag). I have rainbow silks and some yarns drying, and more yarn in to soak. Lots more rainbows to do this afternoon! :)

I am going - to a community gathering on Saturday after Jenna heads off to Comicon and Morgan goes for a sleepover with her friend, E. Next week the friendly little AP group is meeting. We are hoping to see the new Muppet movie at the cinema after Martin gets paid.

I am wondering - where all my laundry pegs went to. Seriously, now.

I am reading - Winning Parent, Winning Child by Jan Fortune Wood. More Mysterious Benedict Society with Jenna. Fantastic Mister Fox with Morgan (AGAIN)!

I am hoping - the living room stays relatively tidy this morning so that a small crawling visitor has space to baby around... and that Martin is home nice and early tonight. And that the challah rises a little better this week!

I am looking forward to - seeing the sea again (so soon)!

One of my favourite things - is the glowing golden shafts of light that fall through windows and doorways on bright afternoons.


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19 March 2014

Yarn Along - rainbow chevrons, and Jan Fortune Wood

So, this week I made this awesomeness from my spun-for-the-purpose rainbow art yarn.
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I've still not carved out for myself much reading time, but I've made a start on Winning Parent, Winning Child - so far I'm enjoying it a great deal. As we've been working towards non-coercion for a couple of years now, I'm finding it very pleasing to read something like this and feel comfortable. The ideas are familiar, and fit how we generally live right now. I remember feeling very threatened by writing that suggested parental control wasn't the ideal, once upon a time. I think I still have a way to go, but our lives are getting more peaceful and more cooperative all the time.

Joining in with Ginny and friends. :)

18 March 2014

A Garden/Chicken Post

It's that time of year again already - my willow tree is fuzzy around the edges with softest green budding leaves. :)
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Our garden flock is very happy and settled, there is less squabbling already, and they are laying around three eggs a day on average between the five of them in this warmer spell. June lays almost every day, as does Cinnamon. The youngest two Legbars seem to take it in turns. Bluebell lays about twice a week. We just started on our second bag of chicken feed (already). So our home-produced eggs were costing £2.60 per dozen at first, now down to more like £2.10 per dozen as the laying picks up (and as we have moved the feed bag to the top of the cupboards, so that the children can't keep sprinkling it all over the garden)!
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(The pastel blue-green eggs are from the Legbars, Cinnamon's are usually slightly pointier and greener in colour. The huge pink one top left is from Bluebell!)

They've very soothing, and amusing, to watch. I only seem to get pictures of them in the run, and then half of my shots are always of June trying to peck the camera. They go a bit crazy when I let them out to free range, but they run back in here when something frightens them (like their rain canopy flapping too much, or a dog barking a couple of houses away).
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Talia watches the chickens from as close as she can get, often with her nose poking through the bars. She comes back in saying, "Duck, nose, me!" and giggling, clutching her nose. I thought she'd soon figure out that it was better NOT to get pecked in the face, but alas. We learned by the end of the first week that we have to cable tie the large easy-access door closed, because it's just too tempting for the youngest three to let the chickens roam, and I'm determined to protect my vegetable garden!
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Between the nutty children and the nutty chickens, there are daily cries of "help! help!" from the garden, and it's always a toss-up between it being a child stuck in the willow tree, one sibling chasing another with assorted toy weaponry, or a chicken loose. It's always when I'm right in the middle of something - like the housing inspection (which went really well, and they're now officially leaving us alone again for another year), or when I'm up to my elbows in washing up, or lifting a huge batch of yarn out of the dye vat. I need to replace my bench so I can sit outside with my knitting a bit more, I guess! (Such a hard life, haha.)

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Maybe this year will be the year I manage to grow vegetables for more than one season. Maybe this year I will not kill half of everything I plant. Maybe this year I will finally buy a new bench. Maybe this year I will succeed in saving seeds from my veggie plants instead of buying more every year. I am nothing if not ambitious. So far at least is IS the year that I order from Real Seeds, and start off my first batch of seedlings in time. And it IS the year we finally get chickens again. And it IS the year that I plant some more soft fruit bushes.

Yeah, we'll get there. :)

16 March 2014

Seven Days

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1. My kitchen window
2. Dancing people!
3. Morgan's lego (and yes, she's allergic to the sun screen I used on her this week *sobs*)
4. Browsing the dinner menu...
5. Natural History Museum
6. Looking at the frog spawn in the woodland pond
7. Spiky mutant aloe babies




15 March 2014

London

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Only two and a half hours in the car, and this time we made it both there and back without stops. I knitted a handspun rainbow cowl and the children read and bickered over sweets. The plan was to travel down one day, sleep over with Martin's brother (and his family), go to the Natural History museum on the second day, then come home late the second evening. Weather-wise we were exceptionally blessed, and spent an amazing first afternoon playing on a huge park and enjoying the sun.

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Not long before it closed for the day we spent a couple of hours in the William Morris Gallery which is such an amazing little treasure of a museum! I would happily have spent a lot longer there.
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It was really lovely to catch up with family, and the children were thrilled to play with their little cousin. B and Talia are almost exactly the same age, and Talia was slightly wary of her as she often is with other toddlers. None of the children were keen to go to sleep that evening!

After an interesting and not terribly comfortable night sleeping on floors and sofas, we headed straight to the Natural History Museum. This beautiful building has awed me since I first set eyes on it, and at least half of the pictures I took in London are just of the architecture here. I thinned them out a lot to write about our trip, don't worry!

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My children have a system for museums. They like to stand for very long periods of time looking at something innocuous, before rushing past six other displays of things I find extremely interesting... I was extremely glad for Ashleigh's extra pair of hands (and eyes) because it made it less essential to stick together and I was much more relaxed than usual about the children exploring and /or dawdling at their own pace - Talia mostly stayed in the mei tai on my back too. It was much more relaxed a trip than I expected!

I knew they'd be thrilled with everything here, though. Some of Rowan's absolute favourite things, in particular. She did a lot of excited squealing! This, by the way, is her "can you freaking believe it!" intense face:

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Obligatory tourist shot of Dippy!

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We stopped near the end of the Dinosaur exhibits to draw. Two pages of Jenna's sketch book are filled with pencil drawings of the architectural details! Either she takes after me in yet another way, or she fixed on those to draw because I barely shut up about how much I LOVE this building for the whole four hours or so we were there...

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The thing Rowan was MOST looking forwards to:

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You can just see the edge of her little face, she's lit up like a little glow worm. Her pure, pure joy at every single thing absolutely made my day.

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We had to finish at the slice of giant redwood, which awes me every time, before surprising the children with a late lunch of sushi. More squealing. Lots more squealing.

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They are pretty adventurous eaters anyhow, but they totally surprised even me by devouring all sorts of things they don't normally want. Jenna's favourites had avocado in, and she ate almost an entire plate of soy beans. Between seven of us (six plus Ashleigh) we got through nineteen plates in the end.

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Rather than head straight back to base, we went to Covent Garden to see some of the street performers. I was a little worried about the amount of walking we'd already done, but when I put it to the kids they immediately voted for more adventuring even if it did involve more of a trek back. (We had to stroke the gorgeous subway tiles as we came out of this tube exit.)

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Talia had been asleep on my front for well over an hour by then, and my back was starting to ache, so we stopped for frozen yoghurt with the aim to switch the sling over to Martin while we were there. Jenna had an upset when Martin got her the wrong frozen yoghurt, culminating in her bursting into tears and apologising for yelling, "I'm just sooo tired!" Fuzzy smallest woke up, and had some yoghurt too.

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By the time we got back to base we were all utterly exhausted and had aching feet.

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It was midnight before we got home; Martin and I are glad we have the weekend to recover, but the children are still totally perky! The cat missed us, and is being super nice to everyone. My baby brother did a sterling job chicken-sitting, and we've come back to find that the chooks are now reliably laying four eggs a day between the five of them. The pea seedlings are sprouting away on the window sill. And our adventures were truly wonderful, but home is such a good place to be. :)