About Me

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I live in Kent with my husband, toddler Tilly (henceforth known as Monkey) and another baby due in November. We have two cats, Duncan and Lady Macbeth, and four chickens who kindly lay us eggs daily. We live in the picturesque seaside town of Broadstairs. I enjoy reading, knitting and cooking. I'm trying to be a bit 'greener' (not sure how successfully), and to be a gentle parent. Extended breastfeeding and co-sleeping don't freak me out, we use cloth nappies and try to follow some of the ideals of Attachment Parenting. If that sounds as if I know what I'm doing, I don't! I am also a psychotherapist with an interest in Focusing-oriented therapy, and I have a small private practice in the area.

Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Horsey New Year

Here's Monkey enjoying her 'big' present this Christmas, a rocking horse from Early Learning Centre. It neighs when you press its ear, and as you can see babe rather likes it.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

New Year's Resolutions (draft!)

I've been considering my New Year's Resolutions, so I thought I would jot them down and edit them as 2009 approaches...
  1. It's that perennial favourite, Lose Weight. Must be done, as I have regained most of what I lost at Slimming World a couple of months ago. I did feel a lot better for it, so my resolution will be to go back to classes. To help and inspire me, and as a little treat, I'm going to get an organic vegetable box delivered, which will also encourage me to cook more of the baby's food.
  2. Babywearing & Walking: now that the Monkey and I are enjoying our slings and wraps, I need to get out and about more, both for the fresh air and also to help with (1).
  3. Crafts and Sewing In Particular: I got a beginners sewing book for Christmas, so I'd like to learn to sew and perhaps even get a sewing machine.
  4. Decluttering: I really need to declutter the house, and sadly this means culling some of my books. I love having books around the house, but the untidy, overflowing shelves just look too dark and chaotic for my liking.
  5. Work: I need to be more conscientious about certain aspects of my work, namely, doing paperwork and keeping my notes up to date.
To Be Continued...

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Monkey's First Christmas

Monkey's first Christmas could not be derailed by flu virus (DH) or cold bugs (me) and a wonderful time was had by all. We all had some lovely gifts and for once it seemed we resisted going 'overboard' with presents just for the sake of it. Monkey loved her Dog Phone, Frog Phone and her eco-microphone (Mama's favourite!), but winning at the moment is a simple duck which lights up in different colours when you hold it in warm hands. She also got lots of lovely books which I can't wait to read with her. We ate a delicious turkey which Mum had boned out, moist and yummy, plus all the usual extras and even a trifle (!). Feeling full of cold, I had a nap in the evening whilst the rest of the family watched Dr Who, and then we made our way back home.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Ditch the Pram Week (continued)

Ditch The Pram week continues...

Here's Monkey and I this evening, heading out for a walk in an on-loan Ellaroo:

I realised with horror at about 5pm today that the Monkey hadn't left the house since Saturday- no fresh air, poor baby girl! So we got wrapped up and strolled around the block, stopping to look at all the pretty Christmas lights in windows and gardens. DH has been poorly with flu- we had guests yesterday who were visiting from Holland, so I decided to go ahead anyway and cook the roast we had planned. We missed DH's company (he stayed upstairs so as not to infect our visitors) but had a lovely afternoon and I even managed to cook Yorkshire Puddings for the first time ever. But with all of that busyness we didn't get out during the day, and then this morning I took advantage of DH being at home to nip out to Bluewater alone to get some Christmas presents and to have my eyebrows done! I got there at 8.45am and was mightily relieved to be finished up and leaving by the time the crowds descended at 11am.
On Saturday we went to Rochester, which was lovely. We were expecting it to be really busy but it was very quiet indeed. I had Monkey in the Hug-a-Bub and we strolled along the High Street and went for some tea and cake. We found two lovely shops in particular: a 'Green' shop selling all manner of environmentally-friendly goodies, and a sewing/ craft shop which had lots of lovely fabrics and handmade items. We bought two 'Eco-friendly Toys', both battery-free: a microphone with flashing lights for the gadget-obsessed Monkey, and a rocket for a friend's little boy. They are lovely toys and worth the little extra they cost, I think. The rocket in particular is fantastic fun.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

My Babywearing Pledge and other thoughts...

I love my Mum dearly but I'd also like to be adopted by Soulemama... is that a bad thing?! Either that or I'd like to *be* her. Do go and visit her blog, the photos in particular are so beautiful.

So, before the Monkey was born I really liked the idea of babywearing and bought a ring sling initially, which I wore her in a little bit but she never really got on with it and could be quite unpredictable. I found it quite stressful because I never knew if she would be fine or would scream her head off, so the pram got used more and more, and began to feel like the easier option. I still coveted slings though, and got a Sleepy Nico to add to my collection (gorgeous!). This week I've caught the bug again, mainly thanks to my friends Sue and Kate, who are fast becoming sling addicts and talk about their 'stashes', so I've decided that this week is Ditch the Pram Week and I'm going to try getting the baby used to being worn (I say week, I only started yesterday though). Yesterday was not a good start: I went to Babycafe and brought the Maya ring sling with me, just to use to and from the car. I'd found it okay putting the baby in it on my hip but for some reason it just didn't work out. I've decided I don't like the padded shoulder on the Maya, for a start. I couldn't get the baby to sit comfortably, particularly wearing her coat, so I gave up in the end. That afternoon I experimented with my borrowed Hug-a-Bub stretchy wrap, and had Monkey wrapped up in it for a short while successfully. I found it really comfy, much more so that the Nico, actually. This morning we went out to meet a new friend from the ivillage Attachment Parenting board, so I wore the wrap again and it was a great success. I did a front wrap cross carry (I think!), the version which you can tie on and then just slip the baby and out. We wandered around M&S a bit, then the Monkey came out while I had a cup of tea, and then back in for some more shopping. She was even on the verge of falling asleep, it felt really nice to have her snuggly, head resting on my chest. As it happened we had to get going before she fell properly asleep. So I'm really chuffed and on the look out for a woven wrap... I'm thinking an Ellaroo...

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Thanksgiving Cake

Originally uploaded by alxjs77
This is Tilly's cake, made by my Mum from the top tier of our wedding cake. It was marzipanned and re-iced in soft pink, with her name in glittery icing. And a cute fairy sat on top. Delicious!

The service and party went fantastically well. Lots of family and friends got up early on a cold Sunday morning to join us in the church. We were subjected to an awful, rambling sermon (not from the vicar, I don't actually know who she was) which marred the service somewhat, as it was the family service and we'd been told it would be an hour maximum. The subject of the sermon was 'Hope', something that was replaced by a lot of hopelessness as she continued for nearly thirty minutes in a rather inappropriately 'preachy' manner. Thank goodness for boobs, which saved the day by pacifying a rather fractious Monkey!

We went back to the church hall to enjoy a fantastic spread of food, mostly home-made by myself, my Mum and MIL. DH made a delicious mulled wine, and we drank lovely pink Prosecco. Monkey was lucky to receive many beautiful presents and cards, including a Brio pull-along giraffe and some Winnie The Pooh and Beatrix Potter books. Our guests left at around 2.30pm, we tidied up and were all exhausted and relieved to get home and put our feet up for the evening. 

Monkey and Mama at her Thanksgiving Party

Originally uploaded by alxjs77

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Not Writing Christmas Cards

I am not writing Christmas cards. But in my defence I have made 40 chestnut rolls, some cheese straws and mince pies this evening. The chestnut rolls are delicious, especially with a cheeky spoonful of cranberry sauce added to the mixture. Not so happy with the mince pies because I didn't roll the pastry thin enough. Oh, and I bought ready-made pastry and the shortcrust version is pants. I spent most of the day at Bluewater with my Mum and Monkey. We found Mum a nice outfit for the party, and I got this lovely new nursing bra. I saw the bra and thought it was really pretty, so pretty in fact that I assumed it was just a normal version and was really chuffed to find out that it had drop cups for feeding! 

And the photos are self-explanatory- the Monkey enjoying her porridge this morning. What a mess!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Christmas is coming!

I can't believe it's been a week since I last posted! We've been busy preparing for the party: baking, making Christmas decorations and writing lists. I made some salt-dough stars to hang on the tree:

And received this lovely mobile from Devonmama on the Green Parent forum 'Season Swap'. It's so pretty and is made of willow (willow being my screen name!):

After having a good couple of weeks, the Monkey's sleep has totally regressed and we're now back to 3 or 4 times waking each night. She's also very boob-dependent for sleep at the moment, which is giving me a crick in the neck. I guess she is starting to teethe, as she's been pretty grumpy. She's also been constipated, and I've tried EVERYTHING to get things moving without much success (apricots, prunes, pear juice, apple juice, water- anything I've forgotten please let me know!). Hopefully things are improving a little now. I commented to DH this morning that she is becoming quite a willful little girl, which is quite challenging but also delightful to see her personality emerging. Perhaps not quite so delightful when I'm trying to get her dressed, or to put her arms in her highchair or buggy harness (two things she absolutely hates!). I'm sure I've got more to talk about but I'm off to see a client this evening at a new centre I'm working from, so I need to get ready for that, and write all of our Christmas cards, dig out the Christmas decorations etc.... !!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Pies and Paranoia

It's nearly ten o'clock and that familiar shall-I-go-to-bed-or-write-my-blog battle ensues! Monkey was awake at 6.08am (!) this morning, so I'm feeling pretty tired. It's been a busy day: we had a long wait for grocery delivery this morning, and then a very soggy walk into town to go to the post office. The baby enjoyed some scrambled egg for lunch, sucked off toast soldiers, and then she had a nice long nap while I got on with some baking. I was excited to be using my new rolling pin and silicone pastry mat from Lakeland! 

This is my first solo pastry-making attempt as an adult, so I was pretty happy with my mince pies and sausage rolls. The mince pie pastry seems a little hard, so I'll have to ask my Mum why that might be? We're accumulating a decent amount of food for the party, and my anxiety is growing with it (as is the guest list). I need to go and look at the church hall and work out some of the logistics. I also need to find a little dress for Tilly, as the one we had planned for her to wear is waaaaaaay too big and hangs off her shoulders! 

In Other News, Monkey's sleep has drastically improved, to the point where she has slept through the night (once, last Thursday) and since then has been going to bed at 7pm and not waking until 2-3am. That's almost 8 hours! The only thing we have done differently is to swaddle her in a light jersey blanket, I'm not sure if that's significant or not. I'm prepared for this to be short-term respite because we've got Teething to come, but I can't help but feel a little smug that she is doing this without Controlled Crying or any other tricksy techniques. It has certainly reinforced my belief that I can trust her to move through developmental phases by herself without intervention or coercion from us. There hasn't been any developments with my NCT classmates, but I'm not meeting with them until Friday. I am, however, feeling a bit paranoid that they don't like me anymore!! Which is probably ridiculous, but is based on my hunch that my CC email would have been discussed at a 'cocktail night' that happened while I was away last week. That's probably just me thinking I'm far more important than I actually am, so I'll just have to wait and see. 

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Happy Half-Birthday, Monkey!

I can't believe that my little baby is 6 months old! This is such an exciting, lovely phase in her development. She is becoming dexterous, passing things from hand to hand, from hand to mouth. She loves to suck on banana on toast, and licked a piece of mango with great relish. I'm sure she is going to be an early talker- she just seems so desperate to communicate, playing with sounds, fixing us with looks which seem to speak volumes. She plays with her feet, pulls her socks off, kneads my boobs while she feeds, gets cross when she's stuck on her tummy and can't roll back over. She loves to stand up and bounce, she hooks her fingers in mouths and pulls (ouch!), she's learnt how to splash mama in the bath, and cries every single time her hair is towel-dried. She is beautiful, amazing, and she makes my heart swell.

We've just returned from a trip to Bristol, where DH has been working. We had a lovely time, and Nanna and Grandad joined us for a couple of days. I did rather a lot of shopping, a disgraceful amount of eating, and even got some sleep when the Monkey rather unexpectedly slept through the night (a total fluke!). I'm not sure why she is sleeping better. It might be because she's been sleeping in her pram for the first part of the night (dark and cosy), or because I've started to swaddle her again with a light jersey blanket. It might even be the champagne I've been drinking ;-) Whatever it is, it has given me a chance to catch up on some sleep, ready for teething or whatever the next parenting challenge will be (probably having to face my NCT classmates after my controlled crying faux pas).

Monkey in her Sleepy Nico carrier, as we walked around Bath:

With Nanna & Grandad, on the train:

Monday, 24 November 2008

Should've kept my mouth (or keyboard) shut?

Do you know that horrible feeling when you've sent an email you rather wish you hadn't, and you're sitting waiting for the reply with a sense of dread in your stomach? That's what I'm sitting with tonight. One of the women from my ante-natal class sent an email to the rest of the group saying that she was going to be starting controlled crying with her baby tonight, because she had not been sleeping well. To be honest I was really shocked, she wasn't someone I was expecting to do that kind of thing. In the email she said she felt horrible about it, especially considering her baby was poorly at the moment and was also going to be spending her first night alone in her nursery. She wasn't asking for any advice, but is it fair to say that if someone writes something like that they should expect some sort of feedback? Is there an unwritten rule that we only support and not question one another? So far it has seemed like that. I ummed and ahhed about replying, initially deciding not to, but then I sent a brief reply, quoting what she had written, and asking why, if she was so sure it would be "horrid", was she going to do it? I signed it "With hugs, not judging, just curious", which feels disingenuous because if I am honest with myself I do feel judgmental about it and strongly disagree with controlled crying. But it's not my place to judge another's parenting, she has her own good reasons, and I should have held off. I think.

I guess I'm also struggling again with my own parenting style. Maybe it's easier to condemn someone else's choice than honestly appraise my own? Monkey has been in our bed with me for the last couple of nights. I bought a travel cot because we were staying at my Mum's, but couldn't settle her to sleep in it. I know my Mum thinks that the baby should be in her own bed, and that she should be able to get herself to sleep without being nursed, and for the last week or two I've been a bit swayed by that, I guess thinking that I would get approval if I could 'succeed' in getting her to bed that way. But it didn't feel right taking that comfort away from her, and I couldn't stick with it. I like having our baby in bed with us. She's tiny, she'll grow up far too quickly as it is, and I trust the parents who report that co-sleeping babies develop into confident, secure children who, of their own accord, decide at a time that's right for them that they'd like to sleep in a bed or room of their own. The inner voice questions this. Don't you just like feeling special, knowing that the baby depends on you? Aren't you being selfish? Shouldn't you facilitate night-weaning so that she can soothe and settle herself? There are no easy answers. Just more questions.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Winter Weekend

DH is away filming in Bristol, so Monkey and I headed to Nanna & Grandad's house in West Sussex for the weekend. Here are some photos of what we got up to:

We baked sausage rolls, mince pies, cheese straws and quiche for Tilly's party...

I finished making Eli's hat- at last!!

We had a snow shower...

The Monkey watched her first snowflakes gently falling...

We visited Great-great Auntie Doris, who was not impressed with Tilly's jeans and thinks girl babies should wear frocks!

Not feeling so great this evening. Monkey developed a cough last night so I didn't get much sleep, and this evening she vomited her dinner over herself, my lap, the sofa and the floor. I don't like vomit at the best of times, and this was The Worst Sick Episode So Far. I won't share any more details but for now I'm just relieved to be bathed, baby in bed, fire on, bowl of soup in my tummy. I miss DH and can't wait to join him on Wednesday.

Thursday, 20 November 2008


I've found the most brilliant website for editing, touching-up and adding text or effects to photos. It's called Picnik, it's free, and it's totally addictive. Here's my first creation (quite literally!)

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Love Folksy

I just spent an enjoyable hour browsing the lovely crafts for sale on Folksy. I bought this fantastic 'Spring Chicken' bag for my mum's birthday, and I'm coveting this bag but held myself back! Isn't it gorgeous though? I have a nightmare finding clothes for myself but could buy bags every day of the week. I'm even addicted to reusable shopping bags- I love the Co-op fairtrade ones.
I'm feeling very tired this evening, Monkey has had a difficult couple of nights and seems to have regressed in the sleeping department. Going to work on so little sleep is not a great thing, people really don't need to see their therapist stifling a yawn :-0 Tomorrow I've just the one client, Nanny C is monkeysitting, and in the afternoon my NCT group are coming round for tea and cakes. Gulp. I've been in two minds about whether to cancel my 'hosting' turn this week, but things are going to get busier towards Christmas so I decided to get it out of the way. And if that sounds like I'm a bit ambivalent about it, well, I am. I always enjoy it when we do get together but having 6 or 7 mums plus their ever-growing-in-size offspring squished in my lounge can be a little stressful for a control freak like moi, who has to keep in check the desire to plump cushions and straighten things up whilst guests are still in situ. Oh, I'm sure it will be fine. As long as I get some sleep...

Monday, 17 November 2008

Facebook Justice or Hysteria?

I've been invited (numerous times in the last few days) to join Facebook groups titled 'Justice for Baby P' and 'The people who did this should be locked up for life and I mean life' . I'm not sure how 'justice' can be achieved via Facebook, or even what idea of justice the 130,000 people who have joined this group envisage? The group itself contains mainly hysterical, ill-informed, vengeful poison, directed towards the people convicted of the neglect but also towards the agency staff involved in the case (social workers, doctors etc). The 'discussion topics' include calls for the reintroduction of the death penalty and requests for prison inmates to cause serious harm to the perpetrators of the crime. Let me first say that it was a horrific case of abuse and that I am as saddened and shocked as anyone that this can happen, but it does happen and I can't understand why this case in particular has generated so much vitriol and (what seems to me to be) voyeuristic interest. Thankfully there has been some intelligent comment, like this piece in The Times, which questions whether the public desire for the salacious details of this case is "violence-pornography"? Why do child-violence-abuse-memoirs like 'A Child Called It' become bestsellers? Do people 'get off' on reading this kind of thing? 
Another article worth reading is Anne Karpf' writing in The Guardian. She argues that the public focus on the failing of social care agencies and medical staff serves to obscure what we most need to face up to: the fact that mothers sometimes cause terrible harm to their children. We need to understand (she writes) what has gone wrong in these women's own childhoods to lead them to act in sadistic and cruel ways that are so far removed from our idealised view of 'motherhood'.
This post probably seems completely out of place in this blog of baby photos and knitting, but I just get so incensed by these Facebook requests and feel unable to respond in any way there, so I'm taking this opportunity to vent a bit. Might delete this post at a later date...

Friday, 14 November 2008

My daughter the Gnome

Meet my daughter, the Gnome! We were in fits of laughter this morning when Nanny C produced this hat for the Monkey to try on. As you can see, it is too long, but I refused the offer of unpicking it because it looks soooooooo darn cute! Busy day today but particularly unproductive. We had Monkey weighed and she's lost a couple of ounces in the last few weeks, most probably due to being poorly and throwing up her feeds for a day or two. I'm not going to stress, she's fine and healthy. I was hoping to get some party plates and cups for the big 'do', the guest list for which now stands at 61 confirmed (yikes), but I couldn't find anything suitable in Eltham and just got myself annoyed because it's such a horrible high street. Came home and managed to put a couple of loads of washing on before collapsing in to bed with the baby for a short nap. On the way to the seaside this evening DH and I listened to the first installment of our Harry Potter audiobook. It's fantastic and Stephen Fry is just the perfect narrator. I've also realised that this is the perfect way for me to combine two previously incompatible past-times: reading and knitting! As DH and I are listening to Harry Potter when we're together in the car, I think I will treat myself to a different one to listen to at home. Any suggestions? 

Thursday, 13 November 2008

What we've been up to...

I've got 7 minutes to update you on events at Clark Towers, that 7 minutes being my self-imposed go-to-bed deadline, introduced in order to minimise the unpleasant side-effects of breastfeeding the Monkey up to 4 times a night (yes, still). Knit-wise, I've just finished making Mr & Mrs Snow (see photo, if it ever uploads, it's taking ages). Next is a baby hat to finish, 2 pairs of mittens to make, and a hat for DH (though I have yet to find the right pattern for a chunky adult men's hat knitted on 2 needles). Plus I want to start making some things with felt, so a trip to Hobbycraft tomorrow is in order methinks.
Monkey is gradually recovering from her cough and cold. Hell, we're ALL gradually recovering from the cough and cold. Trust me, there are a lot of tissues being used in this household (note to self: get some handkerchiefs), and golly, babies do not like having their noses wiped. This I have learnt. I have also learnt that when your baby is ill it is the scariest thing in the world. In Other Monkey News, we are weaning. In typical Sam-style my impatience got the better of me and "mush" has been introduced (yes, despite my intentions to do baby-led weaning). In all honesty, with our concerns about Monkey's weight, there is certainly something satisfying about seeing something go in her mouth, but of course what's going in her mouth is not as calorific or nutritious as mummy-milk, which, thankfully, she continues to drink as happily as ever. We shall see how tomorrow's weigh-in goes. She is now beginning to play with some finger foods that I give her alongside the mush, and I am being really careful NOT to lead this myself, so I was very excited today when she put a bit of toast to her lips and sucked it a little. I can see that she is taking more interest in me eating, and I'm hoping that soon she'll progress to the more usual BLW-fare of roasted veggie batons, toast soldiers etc.
Bugger. It's now 13 minutes past my bedtime. Images still not uploaded. Will add them tomorrow. Night-night.

Pretty Sweater

Monkey wearing the prettiest sweater that Nanna knitted for her. 

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Another Wet Weekend

Another wet weekend in Thanet. Yesterday was spent tucked up inside, recovering from coughs and colds. Poor Monkey was the worst hit, but Mama was also suffering. Thankfully we seem to be over the worst, and after a terrible night on Thursday (we eventually 'steamed' the Monkey to sleep in the bathroom at 4.30am!) we all got some much-needed sleep. We ventured out this morning, stopping first for a tasting session at The Chai Stop We met some lovely ladies here, sampled their delicious homemade curries (the kerala chicken was delicious) and shared a cup of hot chai. We'll be back next weekend to make some purchases. Then we went to Pegwell Bay, site of a now-disused hovercraft port. We had heard that there was a coal seam and that local residents went there to collect coal to burn at home, and indeed, there was coal, although we only managed to collect a few pieces. It was pouring with rain and the Monkey was not impressed with being bundled into her sling and taken out. The photo shows Richborough power station in the distance. This weekend I am knitting Mr and Mrs Snow (!). I also bought a blanket to keep me warm at night when I've rolled out of bed on to the mattress to feed the Monkey. It's a cheap and nasty Tesco one, which I hope to replace with a nice woolen one when I find it.

Thursday, 6 November 2008


Finally finished Tilly's mittens last night and threaded them with a burgundy ribbon. I just LOVE the warm reds of this lovely Rowan yarn. 

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

A Day of Two Halves

I woke up this morning feeling really low and stressed. I completed my tax return last night and now have a grand total of nearly £2500 to pay. It's hard enough having to leave my beautiful baby to go to work, without having to give what I earn to the tax man, therefore not really contributing to the household (again). Not that I begrudge paying taxes, it's more annoyance with myself for not being sensible and putting some money aside each month.
I was feeling very sorry for myself when we went to collect Nanna from the station. I was heading off to Canary Wharf to have my hair cut, and Nanna was monkey-sitting. Last time I had a haircut I went 'local', as baby was too tiny for me to be away for a couple of hours. It was a DISASTER! Just when I was hoping to feel better about myself and have a little treat, I returned from the hairdressers looking like I had two haircuts in one, all short on top and long underneath, not at all what I'd hoped. So there was a lot riding on today's cut, having let it grow out for a couple of months. And such relief, I saw a fantastic hairdresser I'd seen before and she gave me such a wonderful cut that I had to hug her afterwards! I'll post a photo tomorrow if I have the time, but I LOVE it, it's all sleek and sophisticated, lol. I checked in with Nanna afterwards and Monkey was doing fine, they'd just been for a walk, so I took a little time to wander round the shops before heading home. Monkey was just beginning to wonder where her Mama was, and I had a lovely cuddle (and shed a few tears) when I got back. 
This evening I made Jamie Oliver's roasted squash, sage, pancetta and chestnut risotto (without the chestnuts), which was absolutely delicious. My foodie husband could find no fault with it. Well, actually he said it was a little under-salted, but my argument (accepted) was that you can add salt but you can't take it away. Tomorrow I am cooking monkfish with fennel, red pepper, tomatoes and herbs- watch this space!
Haven't downloaded any more photos yet, so for now here's a gratuitous shot of the beautiful Monkey, taken by our fabulous photographer friend Kev

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Halloween and Taxing Times

Such a wet weekend! We had friends to stay but the rain didn't dampen our spirits, lots of fun was had and, in my case, a great deal of cheese was eaten. I made the mistake of opening the front door to our guests on Halloween dressed like this (see pic), cue high-pitched screams from little Vari (3 yrs), who went on to amuse us with her comments about the baby: "she cries a lot, doesn't she?", "she can't feed herself", "she doesn't want to grab her toys"!
This afternoon on the way home form the coast DH and I discussed my return to work. I've received a couple of referrals this last week and I am just about in a psychological place of being able to consider leaving the Monkey for a couple of hours at a time. I'm lucky to have a profession which allows for very flexible working. I felt quite motivated after our chat, and spent the rest of the afternoon completing last year's accounts and beginning to file the tax return online. Ugh! I'm just spurred on by the thought of getting it all done and no longer hanging over me. It's a little depressing to think that my first few months of work will just be paying off the tax bill though. All I need now is a bit of professional inspiration, and that usually comes courtesy of Amazon, so I'll be asking a few colleagues for some book recommendations to get my brain ticking over. 
DH and I are returning to our diets tomorrow, and I've got a few ideas for Slimming World-friendly meals this week. There was a lovely recipe for a spicy sausage and cabbage soup in the Guardian Weekend magazine on Saturday, I'm also intending to make a risotto with roasted butternut squash, and a potato and cauliflower gratin. I'm going to get an organic box delivered, as we'll be saving some money from not eating out. 

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

We talked to the animals...

A small selection of the animals we encountered in Kefalonia. Of course, being Greece, there were cats everywhere. This group were holding a Cat Club meeting in a taverna in Assos. DH has an eerie gift for knowing the names of cats- we met Lasagne, Charlton, Malteser and The Souvlaki Brothers amongst many others. We also met poor little Beethoven, who had a badly injured face, so I am going to donate some money to a cat charity to help some other cats like him. The little bird lived in the grounds of the castle at Kastro and hopped ever closer to my hand, eventually taking some carrot cake crumbs from my palm! And the goats... well, we realised we were lacking a Goat Photo and saw these mountain goats on our perilous drive up to Fiskardo. DH swerved off the road to get the money shot... we almost gained a flat tyre in the process but at least we got the Goat Photo.

Beautiful Kefalonia Gardens

I completely fell in love with this private garden in Kefalonia, and stopped to take a couple of photos.

Christmas Pud, a new bed, and playing 'giddy-up'

Here's my knitted Christmas Pudding made from a Jean Greenhowe knitted toy pattern. I didn't particularly enjoy knitting it because the oddments of yarn I bought on eBay were quite a scratchy acrylic, so I'll get some nicer wool to continue my Christmassy/ Wintry decorations. Looks quite cute though!
It's been a tiring few days since we arrived back home. Tilly's sleeping has been really interrupted and on Monday night she literally woke every hour, resulting in one very grumpy and exhausted mama. I'm hoping it will improve when she gets over her cold. Last night I put her down to sleep in her cot in the nursery after her bedtime feed and she settled until 11.30pm which is a big improvement on recent weeks. We fed at 11.30pm and then she slept another 2.5-3 hrs. I brought her back into our bed at 3.30am as she wasn't settling and I couldn't get back to sleep. I love co-sleeping and I really missed her being next to me last night, it seemed strange, but she did seem to sleep better at first. I've no intention of stopping co-sleeping altogether. I think it's nice for her to get used to being in her nursery and her cot (along as she's happy to be there), although in some ways I feel a bit guilty having spent so much time and money on a room we barely use. It IS a beautiful nursery though...
Tilly's new favourite game is 'giddy up'. Not with a gentle trot though, oh no, she likes to gallop violently on someone's knee, being shaken around and with a clip-clop hoof sound-effect. We have to say "Whooo there"and throw her backwards as the horse pulls up... it's hilarious, her little tongue hangs out with glee. I'll take a photo next time we play! 
Oh, and DH and I have upgraded our mattress to a kingsize, which has just arrived. Hopefully this will eliminate my constant pins and needles when Monkey is sleeping in the family bed with us (pic is of the old bed- well, two mattresses laying on the floor together).

Monday, 27 October 2008


So... we are home from a lovely week in Greece... I'm just posting one photo for now, and yes, the sky was this blue for the entire week! We were so fortunate. Monkey had a lovely time but picked up a cold, which I now have also, so we're both feeling a little under the weather. 
Today I have a long list of little projects to get through and a big pot of sweet potato and butternut squash soup to make, so I'd better get on.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Farewell for a week...

So...  DH, Monkey and I are off to Kefalonia for a week. We leave tomorrow morning at 6am (yikes!). I've found myself getting more and more anxious this evening, trying to remember everything we need to take and packing everything up. I'm bringing some knitting and I've got some lovely books to read. I'm really looking forward to reading 'Wild' by Jay Griffiths- I've been waiting for it to come out in paperback. I'm also bringing John Holt's 'Learning all the Time', 'The Creative Family' and the latest Jodi Picoult novel is my 'easy' read. I'm nearly at the end of 'Eat, Pray, Love' and I'll be sad when I finish it, I've really enjoyed it.
Monkey had her first haircut today at Nanny and Grandad's (Grandad used to be a barber and has all the 'gear'- the brush, comb, gown and proper scissors). It looks pretty cute and it's nice to be able to see her eyes again! Daddy took her for a first trip in her new pushchair (see pic), she looks so cute wrapped up in her spotty fleece jumper and grey cosytoes. She's only 20 weeks but the time is going so quickly!
Fingers crossed that our flight goes smoothly... I'll report back on our return!

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Some thoughts on parenting...

How am I learning to parent? No one has taught me. I have observed others. Mainly, as I usually do when I have something to learn, I have immersed myself in information, read widely, absorbed whatever I can on the subject. And why has my interest landed on something called Attachment Parenting? I'm not sure. I'm a bit of a theory magpie in general. Something new and shiny takes my fancy and I adopt it. A lot of what is written is compatible with my philosophy of therapy and my beliefs about the therapeutic relationship. But it is mainly instinctive, because I read what others have written and I agree with more than I disagree. My philosophy of Being Human, then. (When I first became pregnant I bought a Gina Ford book, and was mightily pleased the day I posted it off to the person on Amazon who bought it from me. Perhaps that was an unethical act? It's a book that shouldn't really be passed onwards, lol.) I don't know if I AM an Attachment Parent (!), and largely I don't think it matters what I do, it's more about the spirit in which I parent. That's not to say that I don't sometimes worry that the AP community would frown at me pushing the Monkey in her buggy instead of carrying her, and other transgressions. But that's about me and my need for approval and acceptance.
It is so humbling being a mama. I don't have it all planned out. I'm not in control. I don't know what I am doing most of the time, I'm riding this wave of ecstasy, euphoria, the most sweetest, delicate intimacy... but it crashes and then there is the frustration, the anger, the tiredness, the fear and anxiety. I suppose that's how people like Gina Ford make their money. They proffer a solution to the lack of control and the anxiety: do this, and do it consistently, and your baby will (sleep through the night/ Be Good/ Nap When Convenient To Do So etc.) Da-da. 
I don't know what I am trying to say. I can tell you that this morning I was breastfeeding Monkey and I decided to do it mindfully. I lay there, feeling her mouth around my nipple, that beautiful little fluttering, and I immersed myself in that moment (it was only moments, seconds) and it was perfect, complete. And I felt perfect and complete, we were a perfect, complete system. 

Knitting Needle Holder

My clever mum sewed up this lovely knitting needle holder for me. Very handy!

Furry Happy Monsters

I love this clip of REM and the Muppets. I found it whilst browsing blogs last night (should've gone to bed early but didn't, again). Thanks to Miss Meep for posting it. It just made me smile inside and out.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

At the farm

Monkey has been very sad and grizzly today. I'm thinking that waking up at 3.30am might have something to do with it, also perhaps some residual grumbliness from yesterday's exploits at the hospital. It didn't stop Nanna and Grandad from visiting, so we went to the cafe in the woods for some lunch and then to Woodlands, a city farm. It was a grey drizzly afternoon (note to self, must find a waterproof for the Monkey) but we said hello to a pony, some chickens, guinea pigs, a pot-bellied pig, sheep, cows, a duck, some geese and a goat!
This morning we went to Boob Club, aka Babycafe. Lots of mamas and bubbas as usual, a nice atmosphere and a place to share the trials and tribulations of breastfeeding... the relief of hearing that other mums are also being woken every 2 or 3 hours at night, that there exist other 'small' babies like Monkey, showing off cloth nappies and slings and watching our babies play on the mats. One of my favourite places.