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2015-09-14 12:20 am

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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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2015-08-15 07:11 pm
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(no subject)

This week we learnt that Matt's dad's cancer is incurable. Well, I've deleted several sentences here. There's not much else to say about it.

I've had the rest of this post written for a few weeks and was planning on adding to it. But I'll post it now and be done with it.


Read more... )
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2015-05-02 03:57 pm
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River at nearly 4-and-a-half

Post that I wrote last year and never uploaded. )

Update from the last couple of months. )

She's still very sensitive to bright light and loud noise. She still cries when she sees or hears someone else crying, or when she's too caught up in a sad game (oh the tears we had when she and Matt burnt the big paper snowflake after Xmas; she was being a fairy and the burning signified the end of her snow magic). She still wants to be a ballerina and a sea scientist.

She's still quick to show affection.

I love her.
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2014-02-21 05:55 pm
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late Xmas ketchup

Now that River's 3 we thought we should be starting some holiday traditions. We already have the old advent calendar (this one) and the Buying Of The Tree. But we wanted more! Read more... )
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2013-12-16 03:14 pm
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my girls!

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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2013-11-03 07:26 pm

really big potato

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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2013-10-26 09:46 pm

huge update, sorry

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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2013-06-13 03:54 pm

the state of things, by which I mean me

Nearly 38 weeks pregnant now. The home-birth midwife team are on standby to come dashing round at the first sign of labour, apparently. If I was to have the baby now it wouldn't be considered premature! Gosh. I hope I don't have it now. I still have 2 full weeks of teaching, rehearsals, exams, church services, and sorting-out-of-house-and-finances to do first.

Anyway, how am I doing? Boringly well, just like last time. Still no varicose veins, haemorrhoids, stretch marks. No swollen ankles (which is actually better than last time). Lots of kicking and hiccuping going on in there, and the baby has started to drop down into my pelvis just a little.

It hasn't been a fun pregnancy, though. Queasy until week 24. Then, after 2 weeks of blissful health, I caught a chest infection which knocked me out for 4 weeks (Matt and River had it too, so we were all pathetic together). Just got over that and then a week later came down with some kind of sinus infection which left me bunged up and sleepless for 2 weeks. Then, just before I got over that, the Braxton Hicks contractions started -- and they always make me feel a little bit sick. So there we are. Out of the last 32 weeks I've had 3 weeks of feeling good. Oh well. Other women have had it much worse than me, I know.

I had to have a glucose tolerance test to see if I had gestational diabetes. I don't have gestational diabetes, but I do now have a hatred of glucose tolerance tests. You have to starve for 15 hours, have a blood test, drink half a litre of Lucozade, wait 2 hours, then have another blood test. Why would anyone choose to drink that vile stuff voluntarily? Synthetic and gassy and nasty and awful. By the time I got home after the second blood test I was shaking and queasy, and didn't feel better until I'd had a lovely solid meal.

River is growing fixated with my bump. Since we told her there was a baby in my tummy she's developed several coping strategies:

Mummy pig, am I in your tummy? *snort noise* )
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2013-05-15 03:34 pm
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River at 28 months

Oh gosh oh dear oh my -- a lot of time has passed since I last wrote one of these. Where to start? I'll break it down into sections, and then maybe it won't be so overwhelming to think about. (And now she's nearly 30 months! There's just never enough time these days.)

A LOT of words under the cut, and a couple of videos )
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2013-03-24 03:51 pm
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A quick entry on pink. River is 28 months old now and has shown no preference for the colour pink at all. I'm guessing this is because:

1. She never sees any advertising. Our TV cannot receive digital and we don't have a satellite dish, so all her viewing is either BBC iplayer programmes, or clips on youtube that are relevant to the games she's playing (eg. a few days watching fire engines or volcanoes or whales or wherever her interest currently lies).

2. She seldom goes to clothes shops, thus avoiding the overwhelming pinkness of the girls' section. All her clothes have been given to us secondhand so I've hardly bought anything since she was born -- and I admit I do tend to weed out the excessively "girly" clothes (pink and/or covered in sparkly tat) and the t-shirts with slogans on them.

3. She never goes to toy shops, thus avoiding the horrific pink aisle. We can't afford to buy new toys so hers are all either secondhand gifts or bought from charity shops. Again, I've tended to avoid buying pink things but she's never complained about this.

I'll be interested to see if she ever does go mad for pink, the way some parents insist their daughters do ("We didn't do anything! She just loves pink!" etc). For now, I'm rather glad that our ongoing poverty has kept her away from such limitation.
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2012-10-05 01:39 pm
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NB: Sling

Matt's parents bought us a pram. Then an ex-pupil of mine gave us a complete travel system. And my sister's boyfriend's sister gave us a pushchair.

But we really prefer slings.

Read more... )

Basically, slings are great. If we have another baby I'm going to carry them in a sling as much as possible, so they can sleep curled up with me and I will still be able to do things with River.

* Lots of toddlers go through a phase of wanting to be carried all the time. It's not laziness (although they'll obviously get tired before the grown-ups do on a walk) -- more likely it's insecurity and anxiety about the bigness of the world compared with their own smallness.
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2012-09-27 12:28 pm
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NB: Nappies

During a pre-birth conversation about money and where we could make economies, dad's ex-wife mentioned to us that one of my cousins had tried reusable nappies with their baby, and she got them to tell me the name of the brand. I researched them on the internet, discovered that cloth nappies are nothing like the terry towelling squares we had when I was a baby, and decided that we should give them a try. Matt was all on board, so we ordered 15 BumGenius nappies in various colours and a set of little reusable flannel wipes.

Our parents thought we were making a bad decision, as like us they didn't realise that cloth nappies had changed. I showed them the website, which seemed to persuade them that it might be okay.

And it has been okay indeed. )
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2012-09-14 11:51 pm
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NB: Milk

Before River was born, I imagined that we'd probably get to 6 months with the breastfeeding. I had the typical attitude of British women, basically: breastfeeding is a necessary thing for small babies but, once they start tackling real food, boob should stop. I was especially uncomfortable with the idea of breastfeeding an infant with teeth, or who could talk or crawl or walk. I witnessed one of my friends breastfeeding her 9-month-old son (crawling, with maybe 4 teeth, but no talking) and felt it was a bit weird and definitely not something I'd be able to do.

River is almost 22 months old now and we're still breastfeeding. I don't think I could ever properly explain to someone who hasn't experienced it how absolutely natural and right it feels to breastfeed your child.

(Photo taken when River was around 3 months old, I think.)

Read more... )
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2012-09-09 10:33 pm
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NB: Sleep

Before River was born I read a lot of books about babies. I rather smugly thought that I would be very clever and wonderful with River. Breastfeeding would go easily. We would put her into a strict routine from the beginning so that sleep would never be an issue. I didn't think at all about nappies or weaning or what to do about prams. I didn't think about all the stuff we'd accumulate. I didn't think about (or know where to start thinking about) suitable, practical baby clothes.

Anyway, River's been in our lives for a while now so I feel I've experienced enough with her to know what we got right and what we got wrong.

(I forget how dark her hair used to be!)

Sleep )
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2012-08-30 09:59 am
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River at 20-and-a-half months plus more

There's too much to say! And I'm too sleep-deprived to make sense of it and put it in any kind of order. Maybe it'll sort itself out as I'm writing.

Lots of words under the cut. )
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2012-05-30 04:38 pm

picnics and procrastination

Matt, in his role of stay-at-home-dad, has been taking River out in the sling, exploring the footpaths and beaches and tracks near our village. On my rare days off we've explored a few new-to-us places together. The current favourite is a little patch of old trees next to a stream at the base of a sloping field. Lots of things to excite a new little person, as well as to delight her more jaded parents. In two outings there we've seen cows, sheep, lambs, a hare, bees, beetles, spiders, cinquefoil, celandine, daisies, dandelion clocks, beech nuts, fallen trees, hollow trees, flowering trees, and sticks of all sizes and shapes.

We've heard birdsong and water and the wind in the leaves. We've smelt the fresh green scent of new leaves, and the coconut scent of gorse. We've skirted the edge of a small quarry, run through the pot-holes in the track, and climbed up grassy banks. We had a picnic there yesterday -- home-made bread and coleslaw and banana cake (I love to muck about in the kitchen on my days off), smoked cheddar, boiled eggs, water. It was River's first picnic. Her verdict: "Nice picnic! Apple!"

I'm sorry I don't post here very much anymore. I do have time, actually. After River goes to sleep at night I have an hour all of my own in which to do things (quiet things!). Too often I find myself staring at the same internet sites, clicking "refresh" but never feeling refreshed. I thought I might try to change that. Except for some Xmas knitting that felt more like work than pleasure, I haven't been properly creative for more than two years. Although I have the necessary materials and tools all ready to go (fabric, stuffing, glue, card, words, sewing machine, computer, etc) I seem to freeze at the idea of doing anything with them. This is stupid. Some of these projects have to be done, and soon. And it's not as if I'm paralysed when it comes to creating lovely food. All creativity is equally valid, and I shouldn't be avoiding fun projects just because the end results are not immediate. So this is me, giving myself a public telling off. No more sitting down, staring vacantly at the internet! Bad Madeline!

And now I present to you: River sitting in a tree.

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2012-05-19 11:43 pm
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River at 18 months

She is wonderful.

More pictures and lots of words under the cut. )

I'm sorry I haven't updated in a while. I've been so busy with teaching, the music festival, the allotment, and babycare, that there hasn't been time for me to write a post or for Matt to really do any significant renovations. Work on the house is still proceeding, but at a glacial pace. The latest improvements you can see in the photos above: the landing/balcony door is now sanded and waxed (River thinks it's her "chair"), and we have a lovely mirror hanging up on the wall next to it.

We have plans -- and the materials -- to put blinds up in the downstairs front window (privacy! I can't wait), to paint the stair risers white, to sand and re-paint an old dressing table I found at the tip, and to put shelves up in the living room alcoves. Shelves! Shelves means books! Books! BOOKS! (I'm very excited about this.)

The weather doesn't help, of course. Who wants to be indoors doing DIY when it's like this outside?

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2012-03-31 04:47 pm
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River at 16 months

River continues to delight and amaze in equal amounts.

She can run, walk on tip-toes, spin "round-and-round", climb the stairs, dance, clap hands, feed herself with a spoon.

(link to video clip of running)

Her language skills seem to be excellent: we're starting to get short sentences ("I want down", "Where daddy?") and adjectives (various colours, big, nice, ace, tasty, dark, scary, happy, sad). She loves knowing the words for things, and the names for people. And seems to be understanding that verbs have "-ing" at the end (eg. "Grandad clapping").

We have a very basic game where we say "what does the cat say?" (or any other animal or object -- lights say "ting!", flowers say "smell me *sniff sniff*" etc). She started to play it on her own, so she was saying "cat say... miaow! cow say ... moo!" and so on.

Then she said "daddy say..."

We leaned forward, curious to know what sound she'd choose.

"... hello baby!"

After our initial amusement had worn off we discovered that she thinks everyone says "hello baby". I suppose it is the first thing we all say to her.

What else? She's a little vain. Taking more interest in her clothes. Very keen to show them to visitors. She often welcomes people by showing them her cardigan ("cardi!").

She has no fear of the sea, but will not go under the table.

She has imbued her toys with life. They have tea parties, sit on the chair, fall asleep, go missing, ride around in the 'pram' (actually a little wooden trolley), hug and kiss, dance, feel sad or happy.

She likes to eat what we're eating, thank goodness. Except she'll spit meat out in disgust once she notices the texture. Rather too fond of cake and raisins.

On the four mornings each week where Matt looks after, she will pester him to take her outside. "Walk? Daddy? Coat! Shoes! Shall we? The sea! Come on. Shall we?" etc. He cannot resist this. Who could?

She is trying to sing! No actual tune yet, but quite a different tone of voice from speaking, and often the correct rhythms.

Still not sleeping through the night. I try to console myself with the notion that her brain is just too busy to bother with sleep.

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2011-07-09 03:18 pm
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I'm fairly sure this is what happy looks like: