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posted by [personal profile] madelinekelly at 12:20am on 14/09/2015 under , ,
We took the girls to a friend's son's 4th birthday party today. River doesn't often get to go to parties. This may be the 2nd or 3rd ever for her. Anyway, she was excited to go because she anticipated being able to make new friends and play with everyone. So unlike me.

However, very much like me and Matt, it took her a long time to warm up once we were there. Lots of leg-clinging and quiet mumbling and hiding behind us and asking to be carried and not joining in the second go of pass-the-parcel because the first round had "quite tired her out". Then she kind of lurked on the edge of a boisterous game the more confident children were playing (the ones in masks were superheroes and were putting the others in prison). River decided to join in with her Leopard Girl persona (a role she's returned to many times over the last year) and instantly made a new friend by the simple method of showing her special claws and magic leaping skills.

We were the last to leave (always my habit at parties -- I dread going to them and then overstay my welcome) and by then River was totally at ease. She had invited every adult to our house, telling them our address and describing the street. She invented new games to play with the birthday boy. She advised Gary, birthday boy's father, on how to handle the balloon game correctly.

We were told repeatedly how confident and lovely she is.

Willow was at ease earlier than River -- she embraced the idea of wearing a mask and obviously loved having hers on. She happily ran all over the garden kind if alongside the other children (2 years old is a bit too young for genuine interaction). But the game of Musical Bumps was a failure for her. She loved the dancing bit but she didn't understand what was happening when the music stopped and all the other children sat down. After a moment of stunned confusion, she walked out of the room and sat down in embarrassment and distress on the stairs. So I stayed with her until she'd rebuilt her ego. By the end of the party she was running around with a huge balloon and smiling at everyone.

At times like that I think we're doing okay as parents. And then we get the times where I just shout or refuse simple requests or shout or ignore or shout. Need to find some way to prevent the shouting. It never helps.

Home-schooling: we're not taking it very seriously as River is only 4. But she's been doing a lot of writing this week, trying to sound out words herself. And she's been playing counting and adding games with Matt. Tonight, Willow requested a robot video while we were having tea, so we watched a robot spider then a robot dragon then a scene from Wall-E. River asked what a cartoon was, so I made a flip-book and Matt drew a sequence in it of someone bouncing a ball. Then River pestered and pestered until I made her a new flip-book (she wouldn't use the reverse of Matt's) and drew a sequence of a feather landing in a boy's hand and a bird coming down to get it back and then flying up to the sun -- remarkably complex story-telling and really unexpected.
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posted by [personal profile] madelinekelly at 11:32pm on 02/07/2014 under
Cut for length. )

Oh the days are long and full. We never stop moving and on my teaching days we barely see each other. And yet every day it feels like everything is slipping further into chaos. Oh well. No wonder we're tired!

 video DSCF3245.mp4

(click image to see adorable video, if it actually works)

* mum gave me a subscription for Christmas. It mostly depresses me as the recipes are aspirational -- complicated and expensive and not designed for families -- and there are a lot of gastro-holiday reviews to remind me of how it'll be years before we can afford a holiday.

** sometimes she gets upset because she missed or refused an opportunity, so we'll retrace her steps and offer the chance again. It normally works pretty well.
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posted by [personal profile] madelinekelly at 11:50pm on 27/05/2014 under

Lots of words and another photo under the cut. )

It's so wonderful to watch her become her own little person.
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posted by [personal profile] madelinekelly at 12:00pm on 22/03/2014 under

She is a happy little soul. New faces, new places, new things -- they all delight her. She wakes up smiling every morning. When we go to bed at the end of the day she gets all excited and flails around on her back with a huge grin on her face; she's clearly thinking "Bed! Yay! This is ace!"

A couple of weeks ago she got the hang of pincer grip (picking things up using only thumb and one finger instead of her whole fist) so mealtimes are even more fun. We've introduced peas and beans and other small things, and stopped cutting vegetables into long sticks.

She can now sign "more" and "drink", and is clearly thrilled that we understand her. I love this bit -- the blossoming of communication. Although I suppose she's been communicating for a while now with different kinds of cry: a "mamamama" when she's at the end of her tether and really needs me, a high-pitched keening when she's tired, a gentle hoot when she wants milk. Still, signing opens up all kinds of possibilities. She understands "milk" and "change the nappy" too. And yesterday she started doing enthusiastic two-handed waving. We'll have to start signing more now that she's getting the idea.

Sadly for me, she has a tendency to nip. Only two bottom teeth so far so it's not excruciating. I'm dreading the top ones coming through (which should be very soon, based on all the teething pain last week)...

She can sit up unaided, but no crawling or proper rolling. (Can roll onto side but not all the way over.)

Favourite things to "play" with (although at this age it's more a case of scientifically exploring everything with all her senses): food, paper, a bell, anything smooth that she can hold against her mouth and go "labalabalaba" on, a crinkly woolly book thing that my dad gave her, long sticks or tubes, stacking cups, the piano, River.

My girls get on so well together. I'm sure at some point there'll be rivalry and fighting etc but these days it's just a huge love-fest. If River sees Willow in the bath she strips off and climbs in so she can "help wash her hair". Willow still loves nothing so much as watching River dance and prat about. I feel very lucky to have such a lovely little family.

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posted by [personal profile] madelinekelly at 09:45pm on 14/02/2014 under
Willow has started the baby-led weaning journey. So far she's tried roast lamb, boiled ham, broccoli, naan bread, satsuma, pineapple, fried apple, pear, yoghurt, passionfruit, banana, cucumber, carrot, mash, various pasta meals, curry, drop scones, and lots more. She's being very adventurous and enthusiasic about the whole thing. It's great to see her little feet twitching around with excitement when she's in her high-chair, and her babbling gets very loud and almost giddy-sounding. We've started signing too -- there's a notable response to the "more" sign so I think she's realised we're communicating with her. It's all wonderful, basically. I feel very lucky to have had 2 brave eaters. River still, when she's not tired and grouchy, has no problem trying new foods.

And, continuing the food theme, we had a LOT of courgettes from the allotment last year (five plants is four too many for our family, apparently) and quite a few ended up turning into marrows. Several of those marrows have been sat in a trug in our kitchen since last October. I thought they were keeping well but an unpleasant smell began to make its presence felt last week. Examination of the trug revealed that one sad marrow has transformed into black stinking goo.

So I turned one marrow into four jars of "sunshine jam" (marrow and ginger, really), which we all love. One marrow became a chocolate cake, complete with chocolate icing. One became a chocolate orange cake (by adding zest and juice of a satsuma to the original recipe). And tonight I made a chocolate peanut butter cake and a chocolate mint cake. They smell good, so I'm hoping they'll be edible. The marrow makes the cake lovely and moist without affecting the flavour at all. It's like magic!

And that's all the marrows used up, at last. I suppose I should feel ashamed that it took marrow disaster to motivate me to deal with the rest of them. But there just isn't any time to do the things that aren't essential. (I've been wanting to make that sunshine jam for months but something else more urgent always needs doing.) More examples: we only cleaned out the undersink cupboard in the kitchen (which hadn't been cleaned for over a year) because there was a leak. And I only tidied and cleaned the kitchen windowsill (a notorious "hotspot" for junk) because I noticed black mould behind the spider-plant pot. I don't like living like this -- always two steps behind where we ought to be.

I know everyone says this, but by gum it's hard having a baby and a small child.

Hard, and also wonderful.
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posted by [personal profile] madelinekelly at 03:14pm on 16/12/2013 under , ,
Oh dear. So much for weekly updates! Well, last time I posted I mentioned that River had croup. I then caught her throat infection and felt really grotty for a couple of weeks. And then life overtook us. Again.

Willow's larger knitted vest is finished and doing a fine job keeping her lovely round belly nice and warm. River's birthday scarf is finished and apparently the best scarf in the world -- worn with much pride when we go out. My shawl is on the needles but nowhere near finished. I am contemplating a hat. Hats always give me headaches, but I keep making them in the hope that I'll eventually find the one true hat that doesn't hurt my head. Daughters' animal hats are all knitted now but I have a lot of fiddly sewing to do so they've been neglected a little. I need to take photos of these things. For the next entry, maybe...

How are the girls doing?

A couple of videos under the cut. )

 photo treecarpark1113.jpg

Gosh, though -- it's hard looking after two children!
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posted by [personal profile] madelinekelly at 07:26pm on 03/11/2013 under , , ,
The first few months of Willow's life have been a huge contrast with River's early weeks. No pain, no despair, no isolation, no borderline PND. It's been wonderful, in fact.

The only downside is all the enforced sitting we have to do. I can't feed her in the sling -- she just seems to hate it. Instead, we're spending many hours sat on the sofa. It's been getting me down, because I do like to be busy and productive as much as possible. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I realised I could get things done while breastfeeding. So I've started learning Italian on Duolingo and I also dug out my knitting needles.

Here we have Willow modelling the delightful Pebble:

Read more... )
And a bonus picture of BatWillow with her grandad, pondering all the crime she's going to fight.

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posted by [personal profile] madelinekelly at 09:46pm on 26/10/2013 under , , ,
We had a golden summer this year. The heatwave, which seemed to oppress so many people on the mainland, just made our windswept island pleasantly warm and, sometimes, wonderfully hot. We spent hours on the beach and had many many picnics. Because we know we'll never have three months off all together again, we tried to do lots of family things: climbing hills, visiting the wildlife park, going to the Royal Agricultural Show, finding new playgrounds.

River carried a big rock to the top of a hill to add to the cairn there.

LOTS of photos under the cut. )

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posted by [personal profile] madelinekelly at 10:05pm on 16/07/2013 under

It's important to write these things down as soon as possible because the memory does get fuzzy very quickly.

Lengthy account under the cut. )
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posted by [personal profile] madelinekelly at 02:42pm on 03/07/2013 under
Introducing Willow, born at home yesterday. We think she's great!


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