Friday, December 14

joy pockets #47

After a cold, I developed a bacterial infection leading to sinusitis. Never had this before, but the right side of my head/face sure knows all about it now.

To take care of a little child, on one's own, with any pain is torture.

My choices are; drugs to cope, and thereby chemicals in my body and further taxed adrenals leading to nausea and/or fatigue, or lying down and possibly coping without medication, but literally lying down for hours. Oh I'm so much fun for my Miss 4.

Today is the last day of term and I'm facing a week alone with my pixie. So many good good things within me, ideas and happinesses, but my body is not towing the line.


barely captured



Joys?

her first mandala drawing
.
little girl kisses and smiles
.
global friends with sinusitis advice
.
how she greets me when i pick her up from school
.
reflexology
the BEST relief from the congestion and pain, albeit temporary.
i can't explain the joy of working my big toe at 3am and feeling my sinuses 'pop' open

.
that there are a few really good tv shows for kids
when mama remembered she wasn't superwoman
.
a social turnaround, for the better
.
that we can cry together, to 'let the sad out' and then it's all okay



Here's to a clear-headed weekend.

Friday, December 7

joy pockets #46

To be ill, again, after just a bare week of reprieve is not my idea of fun. To have your little one ill with barely a few days reprieve is plain harsh. Add extra sickly night-wakings to the usual insomnia, and the stress of finances.....I'm worn out, naturally.


So joys?
precious

the mighty oregano essential oil arrives
.
that she enjoys a reflexology treatment from me
.
"I enjoyed school today mama"
a couple of issues makes this a vital statement
.
a new creative project taking wings
.
her first mandala - drawing together
.
2-week job offer for the Mr


Monday, December 3

needle-felted owl

My very first attempt at needle-felting (over a month ago just didn't get around to posting...).

If you know me, you know I would naturally choose something more advanced. It's just the crazy way I am. I like the challenge, I'm impatient to practice on easier things, plus I like to make something I really want to make.



I used this very good youtube tutorial. I found the ears very tricky to form.



This teeny guy is part of our plays/puppet shows now.

Friday, November 30

joy pockets #45


It's been a while since we've been on a river walk, and I miss it. Illness, then away from here, and now illness again which I appear to be catching, albeit a simple cold.

Finances are dire, always a stressful thing, right?

But amongst it all...

my dreams are sprouting wings
whatsapp is bringing my global friends closer
Miss 4 can blow her own nose


Friday, November 16

joy pockets #44

After a week of seeing my daughter ill, washing countless clothing after vomits, sleepless nights, me collapsing (literally) with exhaustion on Wednesday, (Husband away last 2 weeks), and last night thinking she required a hospital visit for mysterious stomach pains, today my joy pocket is simply the first words I heard this morning...

"Mama, I feel all better!"


Sunday, November 11

the weekend


One is not alone on a cold November beach, if 'tis England. But we were the only two at the shoreline, laughing as we played 'brave' with the waves.

"I love being at the beach with you mama"
I ignored my numbing hands, and stayed until the parking meter ran out.

Daddy still away working...

The next day, sunny and cool, was spent at the local park, she making pals with a sweet older boy, me borrowing someone else's dog just so I could play catch.



weekending with Amanda

Friday, November 9

joy pockets #43


A river walk with the little boy Miss4 has had altercations with,
that ended with him asking her to visit his home.
.
That Miss4 and the boy are officially friends at school.
.
Arrival of gorgeous wool yarn.
.
Keeping greener with car-sharing.
.
Swishing and squishing wool around hot sudsy water.
Felting bowls, seems successfully.
.
Reclaiming back my personal power.



Tuesday, November 6

October rhythms





Storytelling: The Wasted Oak Leaf, with puppets/figures
Songs: Halloween
Art & Craft: paint leaf prints
Handwork: button threading - made necklaces.
Activities: made salt dough skulls and ghosties, painted and strung them up the next day, baked wholemeal buns.
Books: George and the Ghost (Amazon) (Amazon uk)


Sunday, November 4

the weekend


Boxes and boxes
unpacking and unpacking and
repacking.

The husband arrived home after 2 weeks in Montenegro. Brought back with him most of our belongings.

Not all the books, unfortunately.

Plenty of yarn, children's books, my little teapot-for-one.

Walks with daddy, while I unpacked, made storage-miracles happen in our teeny house.....
Somehow squeezing in a Moroccan inspired rice dish for the neighbour get-together pot-luck dinner thingy.

Ending the weekend with tea, and hummus on toast, was just the thing.


Friday, November 2

joy pockets #42


Running and laughing together in a downpour.
.
A 300+ seagull display we just happened to catch on leaving the house.
.
Impromptu visit to the library where we caught a kid's Halloween party.
.
"Mama, when we fight, I never stop loving you....
...even if I go on holiday"

good to know love never takes a break.
.
Discovering a neighbour is a Jungian psychoanalysis researcher
(my first degree is psychology)
... and that her house is full of books!
.
That half-term turned out to be lovely,
flowing to our own rhythm.



Thursday, November 1

Our Reading Month


Miss 4's favourite reads...

How to Stay Healthy (I Know That)
Can you tell I have a Virgo Moon child?

Rosie's Hat
Nice choice for wind themes. Not up to Donaldson's usual standard,
best read forgetting it's the same author.

Patrick Paints a Picture
Ordinary, but she enjoys painting so much that she related to it.
Okay as library lend.

Mother Earth and Her Children: A Quilted Fairy Tale
Gorgeous, but I'm afraid I put it off for so long, due to the price, that now she's past it.
Still enjoys it but doesn't choose it herself.

One Year With Kipper
Nice and simple, especially for Kipper fans. Goes through the seasons in a simple way.
She was inspired to create a 'faux' photo montage thingy, like Kipper does at the end.

A Little Bit
Sweet. We're all a little bit good and a little bad and a little bit of everything and that's what makes us human.
The 'bad' and 'mean' depictions are funny rather than horrid.

Eyewitness Books Skeleton
Again, a very Virgoan choice. Fascinated with the body and especially skeletons.



little helping hands

Psychological studies tell us that both children and adults thrive - gain confidence and a sense of worthiness - when they do tasks that challenge them but also are achievable.
Every time we do something for our child that they can manage (enough) on their own, we're taking from them that opportunity.

From a very early age, household tasks can be a place where children stretch themselves. As well as; bond with you, strengthen their sense of home and belonging, learn team work, develop responsibility, learn commitment, build skills, feel a sense of accomplishment, discover the value of cleanliness and a clutter-free environment, possibly preserve a future marriage, learning that work is a natural part of life, learn delayed gratification, develop gross-motor skills, increase their chance of 'success' as young adults....



Lovely Jen asked for some ideas on age-appropriate chores for children.
These are loose guides only.

Up to two years
  • Carry small objects to be tidied away by you, or by them with your guidance
  • Wipe, dust
  • Carry some laundry to and from basket and into machine
  • Sweep
  • Stir batter
  • Fluff cushions 
  • Hand you pegs

Three-Four years
  • Favourite thing around this age for mine was spray bottles.
    If you use chemical-free cleaning products this is a non-issue for little ones.
    Clean windows, mirrors, or kitchen worktops - they spray, you wipe.
  • Set the table
    Start with napkins and other unbreakables, then spoons, then forks/knives, lastly glasses.
    Put their own things in a reachable area, and they can reach their own table setting at least
  • Take their dirty dish/bowl to kitchen
  • Water garden
  • Weed
  • Filling dishwasher
  • Emptying dishwasher (spoons, small bowls)
  • Sort laundry into colours and whites
  • Put their dirty clothes in hamper/basket
  • Wash-up unbreakables
  • Putting away groceries
  • Putting books away
  • Crack eggs into batter
  • Knead bread 
  • Prepare veg (scrub potatoes)
  • Chop vegetables (chunks)
  • Throw veg in pot (not boiling!)
  • Remove dirty towels from bathroom 
  • Wipe up their own spills
  • Fill the pet's bowls
  • Refill soap dispensers with guidance
  • Making side-by-side shopping lists (they draw the pics)

Five-Seven years
  • Check mailbox
  • Bring in newspaper
  • Water house plants
  • Plant bulbs, seeds
  • Draw blinds/curtains
  • Help make beds (great chance for games with sheets!)
  • Tidy inside car
  • Change hand towels in bathroom
  • Fold laundry
  • Vacuum
  • Rake leaves
  • Help wash car
  • Pick groceries off shelves, choose fruit/veg
  • Peel vegetables
  • Help with simple meals
  • Wash-up a larger amount
  • Dry dishes
  • Clean pets' bowls
  • Take out trash/rubbish
  • Sort out recycling 
  • Peg their own washing up
  • Help mop floors(with rags they can start earlier)

Some points to consider.

Patience
Don't get them helping if you're feeling rushed, they'll sense your impatience. Accept that their 'helping' will make chores take longer.

Forget perfection
It's not about getting things done to our standard, it's about being involved together, and as they become older, doing it so that they feel they're dong it well enough.

Praise
If I wouldn't say to an adult who helped me tidy up - 'Good boy! What a brilliant job you did putting books away. You're amazing!', then I wouldn't say it to a child. I don't even say thankyou, unless it was a specific request I asked of her, like throwing something in the bin (trashcan) for me, or if she did something off her own volition. Nobody thanks me for vacuuming, and I don't thank the husband for mowing the lawn. We're simply taking care of our home together. I will say sometimes - 'yay, we did a great job'. Especially after cleaning a big mess, and if she hadn't really being in the mood.

Of course there are plenty of thankyous and appreciative words said outside those times. And we chat about helpfulness.

Consistency
Fitting chores into your routine, like living in a general rhythm anyway, helps children accept chores as part of the daily life.
If you really are rushed and choose to do something yourself, choose something that they probably won't notice it's been done for them. If a child learns it's optional, that's such an easy way out, for any of us!

Teamwork
I find that just asking a child to do a task can be hit or miss. If I can do something along side them, there's a better chance of success. If I remind Miss4 the toys need tidying, I'll also mention that I'll start lunch. When she was younger, we tidied her toys together.

Be Specific
Tidy up, clean your room, clean that mess, even set the table.... to vague. Try instead, time to place the toys in their boxes, please could you pick up all the dirty clothes from your room, here are the napkins for you to place for each person.
The wording would change, but being specific goes for every age.

Chores?
I know many people use this word (although in UK we simply say housework), and that many parens are happy to make chore charts, with star stickers, and so on. We do what feels right. Personally, I dislike the word chores, because it sounds, dull, negative. If something is a chore, it's not a thing we choose to do given a real choice in the matter, right? Also, it makes household tasks very separate from the rest of the day. We do have play time, and story time, so also, bathroom cleaning time.

Fun
Make it fun whenever possible. This is not child-labour!
We use transitional and work songs (Waldorf style), play (like finding the 'fish' because they need a wash - cutlery. Or putting toys back into their 'homes' for a nap), or just put some fun music on. It can also be a time to chat together.
Children love 1-2-1 time with their parents, so if household tasks means also special time with mum or dad, wow, what a motivator, right?!

Tuesday, October 30

Life skills

A life time ago, before I had children and therefore all the opinions in the world, I believed that education was the most important thing to give children (after love of course).

Now I believe it's freedom and safety to play and explore their world, and also life skills through imitation.

In the early years, these include, cooking, basic cleaning, self-hygiene, tidying up.

We don't do 'chores' we simply keep our home clean and tidy. She will never receive money for helping keep her home in nice order. We all live here, we all help. It becomes a seamless part of daily life.



Last week she begun washing the cutlery after I've done everything else. Then I've added small bowls (which I give a quick scrub if food has dried on). She definitely washes what she uses. We would have begun earlier, but living at the grandparents' meant chemical-ridden washing-up liquid. Now it's Ecover and little hands can enjoy the suds.

Water play is big on her lists of loves, so it's work + play! And the 10mins she's in there gives mama some online time. And if she's feeling reluctant, a little transitional washing-up/tidy song, or some silliness and play, gets her re-motivated.

In our daily rhythm, washing-up happens after morning snack (around 10amish).

Monday, October 29

Last week...

Demonstrated her favourite rope swing at school.
Played sweetly with baby dolls while I took my turn to clean her classroom.
Made loo-roll puppets.


Did inspired art, side by side.
Started to wash up the cutlery, for real.
Got excited about our 5-a-day chart.
(national recommended fruit/veg daily portions in UK)

Offered to vacuum.
Threw leaves into the air and at each other.
Painted the puppet story I told that morning.
(boy meets ducks in Autumn woods and helps them build their nest)

Also...
Made a Halloween banner.
Discovered the joy of a cardboard box.
Made bread.
Went on a river walk with little neighbour and parents.


weekending with Amanda

Friday, October 26

joy pockets #41

The real...

The stress of the school situations is out of the way, due to half-term, but I struggle still with this thing we'll call child-led domesticity. Just me and Miss4, and such a social, chatty child she is, with such a silence-desiring mama. What a mix. But despite it all, there have been many sweet moments... I need to recall them.



The joys...

Our forehead-kissing-denting game
Her yippee at me opening up, immediately after paying, wait for it... a mini cheese
Seeing her inspired by me doing art
My surrender to purposeful rhythm
She's started to eat seeds - pumpkin and sunflower for now.






Thursday, October 25

Bread making

We've made a few cakes together, where she basically cracked eggs and mixed batter. Now that we're settled into our home and working on a weekly rhythm, I decided to introduce bread making.

Miss 4 loved the feel of the flour and the dough. She chose to add sunflower seeds to her little rolls.



I used the basic recipe on the flour packet. And with no measuring equipment and one small bowl (new house, belongings elsewhere still), it was certainly, er, rustic methodology.

Basic Rolls

2 1/4 cups strong bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
15g soft butter
7g dry yeast (I use allison's easy bake - UK)

Add flour, salt, sugar, yeast, stir well.
Rub in butter.
Knead for 10mins on floured surface until smooth and elastic.
Form into rolls (about 9).
Place on tray.
Leave to rise 30-45mins.
Preheat oven to 230C.
Bake 10mins, then reduce temp to 200C, bake until risen, golden, and hollow on bottom.

Bread Kneading Song

This is the way we knead our dough
do it with rhythm nice and slow
First we push with the heel of our hand
then turn it 'round and do it again.


She was thrilled about the rising.




I lathered on the butter, she preferred hers as they were.

Wednesday, October 24

joy pockets

That's right, they're returning.
Here.
On Friday.

5 senses tour

Peek at this page for details.

Monday, October 22

her first 2 weeks

I wish I could record here that it's been fantastic. That all has gone smoothly and it's been all smiles.

But I can't.

The great stuff...

She loved school from day 1, and even better, she still loves school now.

The challenge...

A little boy in her class has been physically hurting her. I can't say bullying, because he's only 4, and he's not making a point to find and attack her. Rather, he's provoked by Miss4 correcting his 'naughty' behaviour, or getting into his space when he's said a firm, 'no'.

Miss4 has a need for order and correctness, as well as a need to communicate all that. She believes she's been helpful. Technically has been so, such as when he almost closed a door on a smaller child. With this kid, he ain't taking it. She also has a belief that we should always share. However, many times, you have to give people the right to their space.

I had a very bleak week, with one night of dark dark thoughts. Including thinking perhaps I ought to pull her out of school (for those who don't know, I had originally hoped to homeschool her, and the only reason she's in school at age 4.5 yrs, is because it was supposed to provide a gentle home-like environment, as Steiner schools do). I questioned everything. A night where I crawled into bed with her because of a primal need to hold and protect my 'baby'. I felt I had let her down.


The good stuff...

Both teacher, the parent of the boy, and myself, are working together to solve this issue. The teacher is very pro-active.

Also, on the other side of the dark thoughts now, I can accept that Miss4 is dealing with it really well. Both in how she responds to the boy - doesn't retaliate but is very firm about what's not okay, saying, no, stop, stop that - and although there have been signs of stress, she's otherwise really okay. I think I'm the one emotionally scarred!

And finally, it's given her a chance to deal with adversity, as well as us a chance to talk through some social issues. For her part, understanding other people's boundaries, and letting go of worrying about other children's behaviour. We chatted together, and decided together, that her 'job' at school was to have fun, be helpful, be kind, and have more fun. And the teacher can take care of the children. In a way, I believe that this also frees her of some anxiety, as she feels she ought to be taking care of bad behaviour. Too much of a burden on a small child, even if she wants to do it.

And building compassion. Talking about how that little boy is frightened about so many new children and such, and that's why he's hurting her and shouting in class. And that she can help him by not making him more scared, such as listening when he doesn't want her to play near him.

So... I'm accepting all this as an experience that will make her emotionally stronger and yet also a more other-aware person.

Oh how reasonable and positive I am! But 2 days ago you would have found me in a puddle of my own tears.

Thursday, October 18

Four and a half



'Mummy, are you going to have another baby?'
'No sweetie.'
'But I want you to have two.'
Mmmm.
'Can you have twins?'
'One of you is just enough, just right.'
'But I miss myself!'

.

Learning to play chess on and off for the last month.

.

Asked me to leave immediately on the 2nd day of Steiner school.

.

'Mama, what happens if we throw water on the sun?'

.

Most little girls ask for dolls, don't they?

'Mama, when will you eat chicken again?'
'Er, don't know, why?'
'When you eat it, can you not throw the bones and wash them and get all the yucky stuff off and give it to me?'
blink
'Yes, sure'

Yup, it's all about anatomy books, body functions, organs, and skeletons at the moment.
I love that she worked out herself where she could get a hold of a bone!

.

Dealing so well with an aggressive boy at school - setting her boundaries but not retaliating.
(teacher, other parent, and I, working on this)

.

Trying many new foods - spinach, noodles, raisins, raspberries, barley, creamy pasta sauce, sweet potato soup - and not worrying about bits!
Importantly, she's, this finicky kiddo, is eating well at school. Although still turning her nose up at seeds.

.

She's the helpful one in class.

.

A visit to the library is still considered a good day out.

.

She loves being outside in nature. And calls our forest or river walks, going on an explore.



Thursday, October 11

first-aid our way



aloe vera
tea-tree oil
home-made 'bug-off' essential-oil roll on
echinacea
arnica
chickweed ointment
chamomile lotion
rescue remedy
home-made 'boo-boo' essential-oil roll on for the handbag
witch hazel
marshmellow cough syrup
plasters (band-aids) and bandages
cotton pads

+ a separate essential-oils box.


Monday, October 8

breaking away

I shed tears with no shame, all the way back to the car. My little girl, my clingy, need-regular-cuddles, rarely-been-parted-from-mama little girl, was away from me, at school.


Every day, rain or shine, is begun outdoors. Hence top-to-toe water-proofs and wellies.

I had gone prepared to stay until 10am (Steiner schools allow parents to hang around, apart and quietly, for an easier transition. I took a crochet project to keep busy), after which they go inside for lunch. But they went off to the 'big' playground due to a lot of muddiness in front of the class, and she popped back with the teacher to grab a tool for digging.

Teacher suddenly suggested, "Are you ready to say bye to mummy?"

What, huh, now?

"Yes", was Miss 4's simple reply. With a smile.

So off I was sent after only 1/2 an hour, and with a mere peck on the cheek. After all, there was a sandpit!

From 8:20ish until 12:20pm, for three mornings. So a very gentle beginning for the children. I have 3 hours ahead, of ME time!! Woohoo! All those projects waiting!

And yet, I can't focus on anything. So here I am, just blogging, working through my own side of the transition... seemingly less smooth than the child's.




p.s, and for those laughing along with me on facebook, at the thought of ME embroidering, well, the results (free-hand and on difficult terry cloth mind you) are nothing to be ashamed about - held at a distance and squinting. But, that'll do me for fiddly thread work.

Tuesday, September 18

we're on our way


We're off in about 2 weeks!

We had a rushed 3 days in East Devon, with some fun time on the last. Made my week to see Miss 4 frolic in a nippy but sunny beach.

We managed (after a heart-stopping amount of hassle due to us not being resident here the last 5 years) to secure a closet, sorry, cottage, for a 6-month Winter let. Not by any stretch of the imagination ideal regards to size, cost, or tenancy duration! But it's a way to get a foot in down there.


It is however conveniently part-furnished, nice atmosphere, not a dump (you should have seen some we viewed), lovely quiet village, apparently a couple of neighbouring children her age, in a safe and quiet cul-de-sac, and most importantly, it's 5 minutes from the Steiner school. The slightly cheaper Paignton properties are just too far, to travel 4 times a day when she'll be finishing at 12pm, you know?

If I stand in the middle of the kitchen, stretch out my arms,
then stretch to one side then the next, I can touch both opposite walls.

I'm excited to get our life restarted again, after this limbo at the in-laws. I'm excited to regain privacy, my own nest (albeit temporary), be in my favourite part of England, discover a new community, and more.

In the interest of keeping-it-real, there is a ton of stress and bleak moments around. Not the logistics of moving, we're veterans at that, mostly financial as we'll be living tighter than we ever have. But, as I like to remind the glass-is-half-empty OH, it's temporary.