Sunday, 5 October 2014

 It has been a l-o-n-g time since I wrote here.  Looking back I can see many reasons for that to have happened, and it makes sense: in a way, I feel that my soul has been hibernating.  Everything inside me slowed down and rather than actively live, I existed.  Yes, for much of the past five months I have been merely existing.  The world closed in even more in August as the M.E. I have been living with reasonably well since I was 19 or so, flared up and left me really struggling, literally, to move some days.  There have been so many fears and so much crying and so many days when I have forced myself to try to be healthy and normal through sheer will power only to collapse, either into tears or into my bed, because - at this point of my life - I am not healthy and normal.
So to sit yesterday and find a knitting pattern I had queued on Ravelry and make a family of these cute hedgehogs to send to a swap partner felt like a waking up, a coming to myself again.  I stopped knitting completely in mid-August and am now behind on the woolly schemes that had been planned out but knitting has resumed again on Archer's cardigan and while I am knitting very slowly, as long as it is simple work and I can rest often, I feel that I am at least redeeming the time I spend in bed or on the sofa. And that feels a bit more healthy and a little more normal.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Birthday Boy

When I asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday his answer was Nothing.  Which I totally understood, after all the extra shifts he has worked, the car accident we were in and the other stressful things that have been going on.  So we did nothing.  I only got dressed because I find cooking in my nightgown really annoying and everyone else stayed in pyjamas and basically he played games with his children all day long. 

It's so good to have loved this man for so many years and to have celebrated 22 of his birthdays with him.  This amazing, loyal, patient, hard-working, creative, self-sacrificing, funny man who loves his family with all his heart deserves to be celebrated. The children and I are so thankful for him and for how well he loves us. 

Monday, 21 April 2014

Birthday Girl


There's something so magical about birthdays at this age: this one day gets vested with enormous transformative properties and, for my kids anyway, seven is a particularly potent number.  Kitten had such high expectations of how different it would feel to "Be Seven" and somehow they all came true which is the most precious magic of all.
We had such a simple day and so few gifts from us because her true gift this year is her kitten (who is not coming home until mid May) but there was a surprise party planned, and while Kitten was out with her daddy buying crisps for what she thought was a video night, the family arrived, the table was covered with food, and her much-desired "lots of layers cake" was popped onto the cake stand. 
When she walked into the dining room, her little face was priceless and we all laughed and laughed, overjoyed at the true surprise and at how happy she was to see everyone (once she had recovered and started breathing again anyway...)
We're so blessed to know her and love her. 

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Making sunshine

Making sunshine. That's what Kitten called it, as we turned a square of white silk a brilliant yellow, using nothing more than turmeric, water and a splash of vinegar. It was an interesting part of her present main lesson block on textiles - (she learnt about spinning and knitting at the end of last year (and started work on a beautiful cowl which she recently finished) - and in this block has worked on themes of weaving, dyeing and sewing. It is a lovely way to cover many skills and she has enjoyed it a great deal. 

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Christmas crafting redux

One of my big projects this December was making a weighted baby doll for my daughter.  She has her toddler/pre-schooler waldorf doll, Daisy, but she really wanted a "baby that would be like a real baby". I didn't have it in me to buy her a Baby Annabel or Baby Born doll, and she wanted a doll who would be soft to cuddle and touch.  So I decided to make her a waldorf doll, specifically a heavy baby.
Making a waldorf doll can seem very daunting, but actually it is not that hard to produce a reasonable doll, one who is full of the love that flows from the heart and hands of a doll maker making a doll for a child she loves.  I have seen many times now how precious a toy made by a mama or daddy or grandma is to my children, and I loved making this doll for Kitten.
It was exciting to see her start to come together and have her own quiet, gentle little personality.  She really did seem to be more than just the sum of her parts very swiftly - at one point, before she was even properly sewn up, I wrapped her in a shawl and asked Oz to hold her for a moment, and his eyes filled with tears because these heavy babies - well, they really do feel real!  When Kitten took Baby Holly to church on Christmas day and passed her to me, I found myself patting her back and rocking on my heels to soothe a doll!
I used the "Baby Jess"  kit from Little Oke Dolls, for my own convenience and simplicity, and Debbie was very helpful and kind when I needed some support while trying to work out how to weight the baby in a way that would be more washable that sand (as the pattern suggested) or millet (as I'd seen elsewhere) - in the end, my mum came up with the idea of using ceramic baking weights.  They are not perfect but they work well, and frankly, Baby Holly needed a good wash less than a day after meeting her new mama for the first time, so a washable solution was pretty essential.

I was so happy - and all my hard work was rewarded - when Kitten lifted her baby from the box, unwrapped the shawl she was tucked up in and just stared open mouthed at her new child! Kitten is happy with her baby and she is as snuggly and soft as we had hoped for.

* please excuse the instagram recycling!

Thursday, 23 January 2014

I usually enjoy January.  There is the chance to draw a deep breath over the twelve days of Christmas, and then return to life refreshed and ready after Epiphany.  There are window stars to bring colour to the grey outside our windows, long wind-swept walks until cheeks are rosy, red tulips to be enjoyed, oranges to greedily eat at snack time, candles to burn, fires to sit around....

But this year January began with us saying a terrible, traumatising goodbye to our darling Miss Molly Cat, and the dirty stain of that beginning just isn't washing out, no matter how many tears we cry.  And December - apart from one sparkling, shimmering secret - felt long and hard, emotionally.

So I suppose we are trying, somehow, to catch hold of some optimism and hopefulness.  There has got to be a way to find some joy... I was talking on the phone to a friend, propped up in bed and full of aches and pains and worries and self-pity, when she said "January is the worst month, just the worst..." and I just then and there decided to snap out of it because, no, really it isn't that bad!

So I went out and bought red tulips and blood oranges, and read a fairy tale by candlelight to the children from a book that I loved as a child. There really is no reason why "happy ever after" can only happen in fairy stories or has to be bestowed by a fairy godmother only on the young and beautiful.  We can make our own happy ever after.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Double Figures

 So, behind our backs, he somehow became ten.  Ten...and like all mothers, I suppose, all I can do is remember the first time I held him.  He was 18 months and one day old, a fuzz of orange hair, huge and slightly anxious blue eyes, bandy legged and I picked him up to kiss him and said, "Mummy's here".  And I loved him crushingly.  And now he is so big and capable, with his mop of copper hair and his dancing blue eyes, and I still pick him up to kiss him and I still love him crushingly. 
And I love looking on at this boy, adoring him as he grows up.  We're all so proud of him and how far he's come. He's been so excited about his double figures and how grown up and big it feels to be a decade old, and we can see how fast he is changing and learning so ten feels like a huge deal to all of us.  He is really starting to live his own life now, to stand alone, finding his feet and becoming more his own person.  

We often tease the children about how they must not get any older and how cross we are that they are having yet another birthday, but then we cuddle them and say how happy we are to be here with them as they grow up and become ever more fascinating and lovely, steadily becoming the man or the woman God means them to be.  I'm as pleased as punch to have this ten year old in my life.  He's the nicest boy I know.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

St Nicholas' Day

The children always look forward to St Nicholas' Day so very much.  It is helpful little landmark on the journey through Advent towards Christmas. They love the traditions so much - and became quite sad that we didn't have time for a big ceremonial polishing of the shoes yesterday.  Finding treats in the shoes so carefully left on the hearth the night before, then eating chocolate for breakfast is a wonderful memory to return to year after year.  And I love nursing a cup of coffee and listening to them marvelling at how St Nicholas picked up the book about himself they left out as a "trap" and sat in the rocking chair to read it and drink his cream soda and eat his popcorn while leaving dirty footprints and the carrot for his horse half-eaten. 
It's such a curious little dance of believing it is all true because they want to believe it and have that magic, while part of them knows it must be mama behind it all.  Especially as this year they saw me put the chocolate onto the conveyor belt at the supermarket with their own two eyes, and yet they were astonished that St Nicholas knew they were studying French and left them French story books...
Every year recently, our church hosts a St Nicholas Fair, and this year it was awaited even more eagerly than usual as it was being held at night and St Nicholas was coming with his horse.  The children were in such a dither that we didn't do lessons today but instead they played and then we spent a happy hour hacking up felt and quilt batting to make a mitre for Kitten to wear and beards for them both.  We laughed rather hysterically and made lots of mistakes during this process. 
 They wore their costumes proudly to walk up to the cathedral and when we eventually made it in to the fair, they had a lovely time meeting up with Mouse's godmother and her boys, having lucky dips, eating waffles, and then, best of all, going out into the dark garden to see the saint in his mitre and robes and his beautiful white horse.  St Nicholas was very kind and gave the children golden coins and an orange ( Kitten tried to feed her orange to the horse apparently, which all went a bit wrong), and then we walked home full of the wonder of it all, discussing whether it could possibly be the real real St Nicholas they'd seen as he was so different from department store santas they have seen before and was like a "normal bishop really" and his horse was certainly real with his velvet nose and dislike of oranges. 
For me the best part of the fair was arriving too early and going through to the Cathedral and finding that there was Exposition in the Blessed Sacrament chapel.  Going and sitting in the peace of the chapel, gazing at my Lord on the altar lit by flickering candles, and just being stilled and reminded of the realness of Jesus, of His love and His mercy, of the piercing beauty of His Sacred Heart was my perfect St Nicholas day gift.  The children were like little angels for ten minutes, and it was a time of utter peace and loveliness, of closeness to God and it was exactly what I needed in the middle of crushing anxiety and depression and worry.
That was the reality I needed: to come and see that Jesus was there for me, to be reminded of His compassion, and how at the same moment that my heart was pouring out its libation of love and need, all around me other hearts were doing the same and He was there for them too.  The spiritual reality that God is with us always, I know; but sometimes I need a physical reality of adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, seeing candles, hearing beautiful words sung and prayers prayed. 
So I feel refreshed and ready for the rest of the Advent journey the Lord has in mind for us this year.  It won't be perfect or "bloggable" or stylish or, knowing me, even that holy; it will be what it should be, for our good, and we will grow closer to God, because He will come closer to us.  

Saturday, 9 November 2013

A Guest Post by Kitten: Morning Amusements


Kitten took these photos a week or so ago, trying to make a record of one of our daily morning walks - from home leaving Molly behind, round the park and home again to check on the hens and start our day. She took literally hundreds of shots and after I deleted the blurs and oops, she picked her favourites. 

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

We had a lovely gentle day today, while Mouse adjusted to being back at home after his time away with his grandparents and his late return last night, and we prepared ourselves to start school tomorrow.  

We found a "woodland maiden" while the children were climbing trees at the park, and she asked us to collect leaves, paint some in our nature journals and then dip them in beeswax.  It really calmed and centred us to observe our leaves and try to copy their shapes, colours, patterns and the delicate tracery of veins.

 We love to dip leaves every Autumn, but so far this year it has slipped off the agenda, making it a wonderful treat to find the time to do it this afternoon once our brushes were washed and the nature journals set aside to .
It always amazes and humbles me to notice the unique beauty of each leaf.  We can easily notice the whole tree of colour held blazing against the blue autumn sky, but taking time to see that this leaf still has green along the veins, or that this is golden with brown spots, or this one is purple-blotched pink feels like such a privilege.
 We have a special saucepan that lives tucked away at the back of the cupboard and comes out when we want to dip leaves.  It sits on the hot plate from our fondue set and slowly fills the room with the cosy fragrance of beeswax.

 We missed dipping leaves with friends, but it was nice to sit quietly with my cup of tea and camera, snapping and sipping away and listening to the children's discussions about the leaves - they were noticing the beautiful colours and patterns, too, of course, and trying to divide the piles of leaves equally.

I feel more confident that, despite a busy week and a week apart, we are ready to re-commence our lessons tomorrow.  Mouse is starting a block on local geography, and Kitten is starting a language arts block, based around fairy tales.

And one of our activities, apart from planting the bulbs we should have planted on All Souls Day and putting the garden to bed, will be using our leaves to make a beautiful mobile to enjoy as we snuggle on the sofa under blankets and read stories.