Sunday, 2 December 2018

Things that are good

Here is a list, in the order they occurred to me, of things at the moment that are making me happy...

The other day, as I was knitting in front of the tv, realising that I was knitting mostly by feel without having to watch my hands the whole time.

The smell of sweet peas on my dining table.

Swapping out the flannelette sheets on the bed for plain cotton ones at last.

Little girls making each other giggle helplessly, without it ending in tears.

Rocket that grows so fast I can cut some for my lunch every day.  I can't believe how much I was paying for bags of the stuff at the supermarket.

Christmas being just around the corner.

Time spent together as a family.  It doesn't matter what we're doing, my favourite thing is to be all four of us together.

Realising the progress I've made on the ukulele when songs I found challenging a couple of weeks ago are now easy and effortless to play.

When the mowing is done, the weeding is done, the laundry up to date, the house tidy (if not clean...).  That happy, weary... slightly sweaty... and virtuous feeling when all jobs are done.

Kindy mums who let me know that, on her first day at kindy last week, A stopped crying a minute after I left.  And kindy mums who convince me to forget my to-do list on that day and to go have a coffee instead.  Which I did.  And read two whole magazines.  Heaven.

When I've waited all day to sit down with my knitting, that feeling when I do finally sit down with my knitting.

And now, just quietly, some things that are less good...

The loaf of sourdough I made the other day which was as flat as a pancake, and which I finished off by burning it in the oven.  Why?  All that effort down the drain.  Or into the pig bucket, as the case may be.

Following a new recipe to the letter and having it fail.  Again I ask, WHY?

Winds that bruise and damage plants.

My girls both having a cry every single day that they miss their dad and want him to come home from work.  Shutdowns bring home the bacon but they are not conducive to family life.

Now let's not end this on a negative note, because not only am I sitting here with all jobs done, slightly sweaty, I'm also about to pick up my knitting!

Happy Sunday, friends xx

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Things in November

I just went for a quick walk around the place to take the photos for today's post.  It rained basically all day yesterday and everything is soft and dripping.  It's so intensely green.  I wonder if I will ever get used to how green it is?  You can almost smell the photosynthesis.

It's been excellent staying-inside weather, and I've made a concerted effort to finish those knitting and crochet WIPs in my basket.  I FINALLY finished A's baby blanket (only *cough* two and half years later), and I've cast on the back piece of the dreaded Sauvie vest.  It should be ready for next winter.

I'm also working on some clothes for the girls' dolls in the hope that they might stop raiding their own drawers for doll clothes.  Anyone else's kids do this?  It drives me berserk!!

Speaking of those little girls, it's been a real joy and a BIG relief for me to see them start to get along and play cooperatively at last.  Basically since A has been able to express herself she and J have fought.  I mean they really go to town.  It never occurred to me in having two kids close together that they would fight so much.  Recently they seem to have found a groove together though.

Maybe because A can participate in imaginative play a bit better now, or maybe because J is a bit older and more understanding, or probably a combination of a million factors, but it's been a delight and, like I said, a huge relief.  They might not end up on the Jeremy Kyle show after all!

Other than playing nicely with her sister, J is suddenly consumed with writing.  She doesn't really draw and has never shown much interest in writing, other than her adorable pretend writing which looks like the scratchings of a serial killer.  When I've offered to teach her how to write her name she couldn't be less interested.  If it's not important to her, it's not important to me.

Until now!  It's fascinating to watch, to see it click in her mind, and her excitement that all those shapes can be arranged to mean something.  The first recognisable thing she wrote was B's name and I think I almost saw a tear in his eye when she showed him.

With all this sun and rain the vegetable garden is going off its head.  Remember what it looked like a month ago?  Here let me remind you:

And here it is today:

I cannot keep on top of the weeds.  I weeded it a week ago.  I give up.  I'm now just trying to keep the beds weed-free and let the paths take care of themselves.  I do hate how messy it looks but there just is not the time, especially as I also have to mow the grass at least once a week or else it's like trying to cut hay.

One reason I've been trying to get through my craft WIPs is because at this time of year they take up too much time.  There's grass to mow, garden beds to weed, plants to plant, water, harvest, stake, and prune.  My knitting naturally falls down the list as the days warm up.

Plus, it's much harder to sit on the deck supervising the girls' water play with knitting on my lap than with my ukulele in hand practising my latest song.  I have a folder full of tunes to learn and am still really enjoying myself.  Can't say I will be dragging it out at parties or anything just yet (singing in public, no thank you) but it's fun for me and the girls have even started making requests which is very gratifying.  Although admittedly sometimes I get a couple of bars in and A starts yelling "Mummy no!  Mummy 'top.  'TOP IT, MUM".

I hate to do this to you, but just think - a month from today it will be CHRISTMAS!!

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

The next stage

We sold A's cot last week.

We sold it mainly because she is - yep - still sleeping in our bed (judge away!), but also because if she ever returns to her own bed, she doesn't need a cot anymore.  She'll be sleeping in a big girl bed.

So that's that.  There is no cot in our house anymore and I don't expect there ever will be again.  I remember writing not that long ago of all the parenting milestones I couldn't wait to pass.  This was definitely one of them.

On that note, I took the pram out of my car a couple of months ago to fit something else in and I never got around to putting it back.  It hasn't mattered.  We don't need the pram anymore either.  That was another milestone that seemed so far in the future.

We recently went for an overnight stay to B's dad's bach (holiday house) up the coast.  It was great.  The kids ran around on the beach picking up shells and splashing in the shallows.  Back at the house they played with their toys and read their books.  They ate fish and chips and sandwiches and fruit.  It was easy and fun.  Last time we stayed overnight at the bach was six months ago and it was hell.  A grizzled constantly, she wouldn't put her feet on the sand or the grass or in the water, she wanted to be carried the whole time, and I couldn't wait to get home.  That's behind us now too.

There might be a place for A at kindy in a few weeks.  Oh how I have dreamed of that day.  And, of course, now that it's imminent, I feel suddenly unsure and unready.  I know she'll be fine and she'll love it, but it's such a change.  She's almost never spent time in anyone's care except mine.

When we lived in Perth and B worked FIFO (fly in, fly out) I had dear Nanny P who took J a couple of times a week from when J was only about five months old, so the jump to daycare and then kindy never felt so momentous.  Not to mention that by the time J started daycare in Perth I already had five-month-old A, so it's not like I dropped J off and then had the day to myself anyway.

Then - due to the move to NZ combined with other factors - we never arranged daycare or a babysitter for A, so kindy will be her and my first real separation.  It's weird.  It's going to be great, obviously.  But I'm still a tangle of emotions at the thought of it.

It's just...   I didn't get a lot of joy from parenting poor A for a long time.  She was so miserable.  Everything was a struggle, for her and therefore for me - food, sleep, her mobility issues.  In the end none of it was very serious for which I'm so thankful but that doesn't make it any less hard when you're in the midst of it and it feels endless.  Now we're out the other side without me even noticing and into the next stage, which I have to tell you, seems to be a whole heap of fun.

The other way I know how much things have changed is that I've been reading- make that devouring - books again.  I don't think I've read a book since before A was born.  I'm back!!

Speaking of which, in my apparently never-ending quest for new hobbies, I've started learning to play the ukelele.  Pretty random, I know.  But I'd heard it was quite easy to learn, and of course it's such a fun and portable instrument.  I can already play piano and read music so I thought I might be ahead of the game but I can now confirm that the piano has nothing in common with a stringed instrument.  Oh my poor fingers.

I'm having a lot of fun though and, as is my way, have commenced a 30-day Learn the Ukulele challenge.  Look, I'm not actually expecting to become proficient in thirty days.  But each day's lesson is a management bite-sized chunk of skills so that even after a week I can see major improvement.  Some lessons I skip through quickly and some I take several days to master.

The teacher I'm using is on YouTube and she does great tutorials and her lessons are free, yes: free: Bernadette Teaches Music.

Check out this ham!  As I said to a friend, it's the Matterhorn of hams.

B's dad raises pigs which means we get an endless supply of pork.  It's probably the best pork you'll ever eat but it's still... pork.  Meh.  Until we had the brilliant idea to have our last beast turned into mince, ham, and bacon!  I know.  Genius.  The butcher cured the ham for us and then it was up to me to bake it.  It turned out ok, not amazing, but luckily I have many more opportunities to perfect the art.

The vegetable garden is in full swing of prep and planting.  We're trying to be way more organised and methodical this year.  I even drew a diagram of the garden so we could map out where to plant everything.  I know.  So professional.  So far we have kale (for the chooks), lettuces, zucchini, squash, rocket, tomatoes, corn, various onions, spinach, various beans and peas.  Oh and strawberries.  And the ubiquitous rhubarb and herbs.  I'm feeling optimistic for bumper crops.

I haven't baked a loaf of sourdough for a few weeks but I can turn out a decent loaf fairly reliably.  They're still a bit flat and dense but they do have that lovely sourdough taste and chew.  After an unenthusiastic start even J is now a huge fan.  A, not so much.  Shocking, I know.

My 12-week fitness challenge ends this week.  Safe to say I fell off the wagon somewhat with the exercise, but my eating habits have changed significantly for the better.  I'm a few kilos down and have shed some major centimetres.  I didn't take measurements but my clothes tell me everything I need to know. 

Although I didn't exactly finish strong, the challenge gave me the motivation and support I needed to make some positive changes.  I still highly recommend it, although be warned the recipes are CRAP.  The program I did was The Bod.  I participated in a "Restart", which basically means that everyone everywhere starts the program at the same time, but you can buy it and start it anytime you like.  I'll definitely be referring back to the exercise program if I feel like I need another boot up the bum.

I'm trying to think what else I need to catch up on...

I made a flying visit home to Adelaide a few weeks ago.  I was only there for three days but got my fill of family time and ate and drank myself stupid.  Cried my eyes out flying out over the Adelaide Hills.  This visit was incredibly brief but even if I was there a month it would never be long enough.  I adore NZ but it is bloody hard sometimes being away from my family.

Spring is here although we're having a bit of a cold snap at the moment.  I'm really trying not to light the fire but the past few mornings have been cold so it's still in use occasionally.  You can tell I took this photo below a while ago because that tree is now covered in new leaves, and so the cycle starts again.  

I love the seasons here. 

Can you believe two years ago we were still living in Perth without even a moving date set??  It feels like we've been here forever already.

Monday, 10 September 2018

This and that and everything else

I'd better write this before I put it off again and it all becomes irrelevant.

So, what's been going on around here?

One of our cows had a calf.  One of our sheep had twin lambs (yes, another set of twins).  My daphne is flowering and smells glorious.

After I foolishly wrote a post about A's sleep, it all went seriously haywire and now she sleeps in our bed.  Every nap.  And every night.  I kind of care, in that I'd prefer to have the bed to myself and B, but mostly I don't care.  It won't be forever.  I hope.

We're considering putting her and J in a room together as I've heard that sharing a room can quite often resolve whatever abandonment issues are keeping them from sleeping alone.  Anyone done this?  Tell me your tales!

Look at those big fatties! The sheep I'm talking about.  Those are the original twin lambs, Emily and Jack.  They're so big and cute and fat.  And pushy.

My health and fitness regime is going well.  I'm now into Week 5 of the program and it's nice to not be DYING halfway through the warm up anymore. 

I'm also eating nutritious food at least 80% of the time.  This is no thanks to the recipes provided with the program, which I've finally come to the conclusion are useless.  At first I thought it was just me cooking with unfamiliar ingredients (coconut oil, oat flour, etc), but seeing the feedback from everyone else doing the program we're all having the same trouble.  The recipes are rubbish, which is a bit disappointing.  I'm back to cooking my own creations and just keeping track of the nutrients.

Honestly, so far I don't feel much different - no more energy or better sleep or anything like that - but I do feel good about making good choices.  I enjoy my treats now without fretting about what I should or shouldn't have eaten.  If I have a really indulgent meal or even whole day (weekends are my downfall every time), I just start again the next day with the good choices.  That's a huge change of mindset for me, whereas previously I would have used a blowout as an excuse to give up: "I've failed now anyway..."

I finally made a decent loaf of sourdough!  Now this is exciting.  After those first few attempts, I just kind of gave up and put the starter in the fridge.  The loaves weren't turning out very nice, the kids wouldn't eat it, so I didn't feed my starter or even touch it for weeks. 

Then last week B urged me to have another go, selling me on the idea we could have it for breakfast on the weekend.  I got the starter out first thing Friday morning, poured some off and fed it.  To begin with it was very thin and lifeless but sure enough by Friday evening it was active and fragrant and ready.

I baked the loaf on Saturday and it was as good as any you would buy, if I do say so myself.  Sour, chewy, so good!  Even J rolled about three slices for her lunch.  So apparently neglect is the key to good sourdough.  Who knew?

In craft news, which I know fascinates everyone no end, I'm doggedly working my way through the last of my works-in-progress - that bloody Sauvie vest, and A's baby blanket which considering she's turning two this month is AHEM somewhat overdue.  After that, J has made several very specific requests for garments for her dolls and she likes to check back in with me about them several times a week so I'd better get cracking.

And that brings us pretty well up-to-date.

Don't forget to tell me your experiences of kids sharing bedrooms!  Or, for that matter, any other zero-effort zero-crying ways to get an extremely stubborn kid out of your bed...

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Bread, baptism, and The Bod

This will only be a short post as I've run out of steam again.  Can't be bothered to blog.  However I still feel obligated to Future Prue to keep things sort of up to date here.

My news at the moment can be summed up by the letter B.


I've entered the complex yeasty world of sourdough.  For the uninitiated, sourdough bread is made without commercial yeast.  The raising agent is in fact a starter - a living mixture of flour and water in which resides wild yeast.  Because of the nature of wild yeast, sourdough is in fact a fermented product and therefore has many health benefits not gained from regular bread.  It's a tricky beast to master and my first loaf was small, dense, and frankly inedible, but I'm having a lot of fun trying.


The girls were baptised last weekend.  It was a lovely low-key day and they both behaved themselves perfectly.  Considering A's rambunctious personality and J's fear of water on her head I was pretty apprehensive about how things would go, but luckily it all went smoothly.

The Bod.

I've signed myself up for an online 12-week fitness challenge called The Bod

Back in the days before I had two babies in quick succession, I went to the gym regularly.  I got up at 5am to go running, I did yoga, I portioned out healthy foods into plastic containers, and generally took care of myself. 

That feels like a very long time ago.  

As A approaches her second birthday, I'm really feeling the need to carve out some time for myself.  To do something that's just for me.  I'm not upset by my reflection in the mirror, this isn't about a number on the scales, it's not about that; it's more about how I feel.  I feel weak, flabby and unhealthy.  I rarely drink water, I eat way too much at mealtimes, and I'm eating non-nutritious foods most of the time.  I'm also fresh out of excuses so it's time to make the changes I've been talking about for so long.

Don't worry, I know someone else's health/fitness program is rarely very interesting for anyone else to hear about so I'll keep the reps and macros talk to a minimum on here.

And that is about it.  Until next time!

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Follow-up to babies who do not sleep: lessons in control and surrender

It was about a year ago that I wrote this post, pouring out my exhausted heart on the topic of my non-sleeping child.

It’s weird reading it now and remembering how sleep deprived I was, how I was just barely hanging on.  How panicked and desperate I would feel in the hours before bedtime, wishing that that would be the night she’d have a good sleep, finally, so I could too, and yet knowing that she wouldn’t.

Having already had a good sleeper in J was both a blessing and a curse.

The blessing of having a good sleeper in the other room was that I knew that A’s sleep was not my fault.  Mine to fix, yes, but not caused by me.  We did everything the same with both girls.  Some kids sleep, some don’t.

The curse of it though was that - despite knowing it wasn't my fault - I still felt compelled to try and “fix” A’s sleeping.  I needed to find the cause, the problem, and resolve it.  Then everything would be fine.  I knew, from J, that babies can sleep deeply and consistently every single night.  So I kept trying to solve The Problem. 

It took a long time - a REALLY long time - for me to just accept it and surrender to it.  There was/is no Problem.  This is just how she sleeps.

After that, everything changed.

Well, ok.  Nothing actually changed.  Her sleep is still inconsistent to this day.  She still wakes, although nowhere near as much.  She still sometimes spends hours awake in the middle of the night for no apparent reason.

What has changed, though, is my attitude.  I no longer obsess.  Well, I'm still me.  I do still obsess sometimes.  But what I don't do anymore is try to get to the root of The Problem, or wonder if we should wean her off the dummy, or do controlled crying again, or what.

It helps that the wakings are far fewer these days, or that I now have a group of friends here in NZ, several of whom also have non-sleepers.

Turning one year old helped.  Learning to walk helped.

The passage of time helped.

She has now slept through the night plenty of times.  That's the exception rather than the rule, though.  When she wakes I give her a bottle.  I could try to wean her off that but I  She often comes into our bed.  We're all getting the most sleep we've had since she was born and that's the main thing.

What I have had to forgive myself for is who I am in the middle of the night.  It is not a good side of me.  When she has a bad night, I'm furious.  An Exocet missile just looking for someone on whom to unleash.  At her, at B, at the world because I just want to go to sleep.  I snap and snarl, and sometimes I cry.  It all feels so much bigger and so much worse at 3am (or 4am, or 5am...).

Once she's finally back asleep I'll lie awake and torture myself with guilt and shame over the way I treated her, the things I said under my breath, the anger and resentment that always seems to be right there under the surface.  The dark feelings caused by so many sleepless nights.

It has been a very hard road.  So many tears I have shed from exhaustion.  Feeling ashamed of her not sleeping when her peers have long since put those broken nights behind them.  Feeling almost hysterical with desperation for a solid night’s sleep.

Just barely hanging on.

I always try to look on the bright side, but this has been something that has been tremendously difficult with very little upside.  If anything, the upside for me has been what I have learned to succumb to as a parent.  Relinquishing control, in all kind of ways - not just sleep.  I never realised how many things I was giving myself a hard time about for not being perfect.  Or things about life with small kids that I was still resistant to.  Ideas I had held onto from before I'd had kids about the kind of parent I would be.  There’s so much I’ve let go of.

I've also been able to really look around and see how many others are dealing with the same thing.  Maybe it's not normal, but it is common.

It's only the end of the world if you decide that it is.

And maybe that's what it comes down to.  There are so many things in life that you can't change.  Family who push your buttons, a job, or a partner who can't or won't give you want you want.  A child who doesn't sleep.  You cannot change them.  But you can change how you respond to them.  Maybe that's the thing I needed to learn.

Or, maybe, I'm just really really sleep deprived.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Wintery things

Whoops, look at that, nearly three weeks since my last post.  I'm going to blame sick kids (yes, again/still/this is just who we are now) and having to prepare tax returns in two countries.  That's fun.  Oh, wait.  No it isn't.

Moving along!  We've had a cold snap with frosts most mornings.  The fire has been going non-stop.

That Fair Isle knitting project I talked about last month is done and could I be more thrilled with it?  No I could not!  Ravelled herePattern here.

Minor issue is that it's miles too big for J because no I didn't do a gauge swatch and no I will never learn.

I was a bit nervous getting started with the colour work but once I got the hang of it I really enjoyed the process and watching the pattern appear.  Plus the inside looks pretty cool too!

I haven't taken any photos of them recently but the twin lambs are growing at a great rate and as boisterous and funny as lambs can be.  Did I tell you the mother died?  I went out one morning and she was just lying there.  The poor little lambs were huddled up next to her cold body, no idea what to do.  We caught them up, got some milk down their throats and now they're as tame as anything.

The best part is that they bring out the lamb in our ram, who's not much older than they are.  He's a lot bigger than them and when he starts dashing around leaping off things with them at dusk they run off terrified.  I'm spending a lot of time at the windows ignoring my own children.

What else?

J's re-toilet training has gone - dare I say this - very smoothly.  We've now completed the sticker chart I created for it and I think we're sorted on that front.  I hope.  I will never be complacent about these issues again.

The den of germs continues, unfortunately.  I know it's the season for it but SERIOUSLY.  It has not stopped.  This week I took A, who was reaching monomental levels of clinginess even for her, to the doctor where she was diagnosed with strep throat/scarlet fever.  At least it can be treated with antibiotics unlike the viruses they seem to catch over and over again.

I really must get some vegetables into them. 

Speaking of which, A is off to the dietician.  Her diet is still ridiculously narrow and although she's still on formula to ensure she's getting all the nutrients, I just can't see how she will ever expand her palate.  It's been the same for months now.  Crackers, Marmite toast, and yoghurt.  If the dietician says that's fine, I'm ok with it.  But at this point I just want a professional's opinion and guidance.

With all the illness, A's sleep has gone completely off-track again.  She's sleeping in our bed for half the night and if I so much as think about trying to return her to her room, she screams until she vomits.  It's good fun for the whole family.  Oh, wait.  No it isn't.

I have a post percolating on the subject, especially as it's almost a year since I last wrote about it at length.  I know, boring!!  But I want a record for myself.

Generally life is actually pretty good, illness and dying stock aside.  B is working five minutes down the road which means he's home every night and has weekends off.  I filled out forms for J's school enrolment which brought up a lot of unexpected emotions for me.  I thought about doing plastic-free July until I unwrapped the fifth muesli bar of the day and realised that I have a long way to go.