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.
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.
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).
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Today I finished knitting the tank top for K's new baby, and in timely fashion received news of his birth this morning! Congratulations and welcome to the world little one. I've put together a little breast-feeding care parcel for K, including some fennel tea, oatflake biscuits, a copy of Green Parent and some pretty beads. I hope it reaches her safely.
Monkey and I had an appointment with the paediatrician this afternoon. It went reasonably okay, we both had blood tests and it seems that I may be calcium deficient. There was no mention of formula top-ups (hoorah) but we were encouraged to wean the Monkey early, the idea being to maximise her calorie intake. But as some mamas on the GP forum pointed out, breastmilk is MORE calorific than baby rice! So presumably I could be filling her up with mush and potentially reducing her BM intake. I'm annoyed with myself for being so compliant in there... I knew this information anyway, so why didn't I speak up and ask questions? On the positive side, the consultant was extremely kind and gentle in examining Monkey, and apologised for our wasted journey on Friday.
I went to Bluewater on Friday and bought some cream and blue yarn to make a stripy hat for baby Eli, and a new book of baby knits. And my eBay purchase of a bag of assorted colour yarns arrived this morning (see pic), the plan is to try making some little toys from the Jean Greenhowe book. I'm still finishing off the grey tank top. The V-neck went a bit wrong (looks like a ruffle rather than a V, lol!) but I've learnt how to pick up stitches properly now (goodness knows what I was doing before) and will try to finish the armhole borders this evening... then it will be winging its way to France, hopefully in time for the arrival of a certain new baby.
In other news, DH and I booked a holiday. We are going to Kefalonia on Sunday for a week, our first holiday with the Monkey! I am going to take LOADS of knitting with me, and I'm also going to make my way through a pile of books. Greek salad, Tsatziki, Autumn sun, I can't wait, bliss.....
I'm feeling very tired today. Nothing unusual sleep-wise from the Monkey (that means anything from 2-4 hrly waking at night) but DH has been getting up for work at 5am and I've been going to bed too late. It seems to be a toss-up between going to bed early and sleeping while the Monkey sleeps (9pm ish) or staying up and having some precious uninterrupted hours for reading, knitting, visiting forums etc. Mum came over this afternoon and took baby for a walk while I had an hour of sleep, but it didn't really touch the sides. Ho hum. Some nice things though... we met up with Sue and Eli for a cup of tea and cake this morning. I also picked up a nice parcel from the post office containing books from Amazon. 'Festivals Family and Food' is a Green Parent recommendation which I thought might give me some inspiration for the Monkey's Thanksgiving party in December. 'You are Your Child's First Teacher' looks interesting, and might be a timely reminder that what I am doing here at home is an Important Job. I've been feeling like I *should* be working (ie earning money). My job as a therapist is ideal because it is so flexible and I can choose to do as many or as few hours as I like, but the Monkey has other ideas and steadfastly refuses to have anything to do with bottles or teats, preferring the Real Thing. Of course she is only 4 months old and 6 months maternity leave is, I think, a bare minimum, but I do feel like I should be contributing financially and if I can go out for an hour and earn £40 or so that can't be a bad thing.
Ooooh, and I bought a Jean Greenhowe knitted toys pattern pamphlet and a mixed lot of yarn oddments on eBay which look perfect for toymaking.
My next project, a tank top in a silvery-grey Sirdar Snuggly Bamboo yarn. It was going well, I completed the back, but then I started getting complacent and didn't read the pattern closely enough for the front. Cue two lots of unpicking. Now I'm back on track but running out of yarn... it will have to wait until I go to John Lewis on Friday. The tank top is a present for an imminently-due new baby. It's another one from the Sirdar 'Sweet Peas' pattern book.
Duncan is the ginger one, Lady Macbeth the black fluffy one. Lady is intellectually challenged and her nickname is 'Sluggy'. She likes to lie on her back with her legs spread *sigh*. Duncan is the clever one, and as you can see here, he pays more attention to the 'Therapy' journal (yawn) than I do. They are both rescue cats from 'Last Chance' in Edenbridge.
The Monkey's friends have started to get christened and 'named'. So far we have enjoyed two lovely days out at Matilda and Eva's special days, one was a Naming Ceremony and the other a traditional Catholic christening. It has inspired us to have 'something' for the Monkey, and we've decided to have a thanksgiving service (rather than a Baptism), followed by a festive party in the church hall. It will be close to Christmas, so I'm hoping there'll be mulled wine and mince pies amongst other things.
My dad was 60 years old on 2nd October, and to celebrate we went to dinner at The Vine restaurant in Sevenoaks (one of our favourites and highly recommended). We had a delicious meal and Tilly enjoyed seeing Nanna & Grandad, Uncle Alex and Great-Nanna Rose. Grandad had some lovely presents: a camera from Alex, some Bollinger and a bottle of 1974 Malt Whisky, some Bertie Bassetts and two framed photos of the monkey. Nanna must have been a bit tipsy as she told us all that she can't believe that Tilly is really her Grand-daughter (in a 'wow she's so incredible' rather than 'eueeeew THAT belongs to us?' way!
Here are a couple of the knitting projects I have completed in the last few weeks. The lacy hat and bootees were both given as christening presents to NCT friends. They are from a Sirdar pattern book, 'Little Sweet Peas' (332). I got the pattern for the bootees a bit wrong, and the hat isn't quite right either but I think they both look fine!