Thursday, September 30, 2010

What I've been up to...

Since I'm not blogging every day at the moment, I thought I'd aim for at least once a week.

Here's what I've been up to...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Elderly People Today. Tsk tsk.

On Tuesday I took Jake to Sainsbury’s. As usual, he wanted to help by pushing the basket. The basket with no wheels. As usual, he pushed it a bit, said, “Oh, no wheels!” then carried on. Then stopped, turned to me and said (complete with pointing index finger), “Be careful. People.” I duly nodded and told him he was right. And he was careful, just like he always is.

As I crossed the busy intersection between the onions and the hummus aisle, I noticed Jake had stopped. He’d noticed an elderly woman in a mobility scooter and waited for her to go first. So I stopped and waited too. She however, didn’t budge. Instead, she chose that moment to patronise me.

“You’ve left your baby,” she said, looking at me like I’d just tried to stuff him into a sack and throw him in a river.

All my childhood schooling in suppressing one’s instincts kicked in as I gritted my teeth and said “I haven’t left him, he’s stopped so you can go.”

She was deaf and/or ignored me and said, “You should be careful, I could have hit him.”

I said, “Thank you but he’s actually stopped so you can go.”

In the middle of this excruciating exchange, Jake sensibly decided it was safe to cross the intersection and pushed the basket over to join me.

“Oh!” the woman said, “He’s helping you.” No shit Sherlock.

When she finally moved, Jake turned and said, “Bye!” with his irresistible toddler cheer.

She didn’t even say thank you.

Old people today. I don't know.  If you ask me, technology’s ruined them.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Today was notable not only because it was Indian Summer warm, but because I didn’t do any shouting. That’s been rare lately. Jake and I had a gorgeous afternoon in the marshes. I only raised my voice once, when he told me he’d done a poo but wouldn’t let me change him. I asked him a few times, he didn’t listen, I raised my voice in annoyance, he looked at me warily then deliberately went and stood in the furthest corner away from me. Of course he did. Why should he want to listen when I talk to him like that? It sounds obvious but I didn’t really get it till I saw the look on his face. It was so different from the rest of the day, which was full of laughter and cuddles and kisses.  Tone is everything.  Children hear it all.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Collage of Colours

So this is the original photo of the tissue paper that I peeled off
from the 'Fall' drawing (see previous post) once dried.

And this is a digital collage, edited in Picnik.

I'm considering having the collage printed out as postcards.
Whaddya think?

More bleedin' art...


A drawing on a background of bled tissue paper, made for one of my "facebook five".  I don't think the recipient of this drawing reads my blog so I feel I can post it here before sending it to her.

To see what I did with the remains of the tissue paper, stay tuned for my next post.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I need a title

I still haven't been able to start any embroidery, but I have been working on this drawing, for which I need a title.  When I was drawing it, I kept hearing Jake's voice in my head saying "Go home now?"  I don't know why.  So maybe that's what I should call it.  What do you think?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

These things made me cry today

1) Jake asking Paul if he'd had a nice day when he got home from work.  (It was the first time we've heard him ask that).  And then when Paul asked Jake if he'd had a nice day, Jake said, "Oh yes, playing jumping on sofa with Mummy."  It's definitely the longest sentence he's spoken so far.  (Proud Mummy tears)

2) Unexpected tears poured from the depths of my sad little soul when I watched this video on you tube:

The Loi Krathong song is a song I remember from childhood trips to Thailand.  I watched a few different versions of the song, mainly sung by Thai people, but for some reason, seeing these two non-Thai people sing this traditional Thai song with such heart (and excellent pronunciation!) made me bawl. 

(I looked it up because I went to visit a friend yesterday who'd lived in Thailand for many years and she mentioned that her 3.5 year old is currently addicted to watching the Loi Krathong song on You Tube.  I have yet to find Thai lyrics written out phonetically in English.  I'll just have to try and work it out myself.)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

For the past few days...

I've been getting stupidly upset (again) about "friendship" and how hard it is to meet and make true friends.
Well, enough stewing already. 

Only true friends are worth all the time and energy I've been wasting on making myself feel like crap about this.  And they wouldn't make me feel like this in the first place.

Besides, who needs bastard fickle friends when you have:

1) A therapist
2) A fat warm cat
3) Real friends who actually give a shit
and last but not least,
4) A gorgeous boy like this...

These "head kisses" was spontaneously initiated by Jake
last Sunday while we were eating cake

Saturday, September 11, 2010

11.9.10 ~ shadows

Right now, I’m alone. Paul’s taken Jake out and I’ve tidied the flat, Jake’s toys and my digital photo albums. What I’m supposed to be doing is making sketches for possible projects. But I’ve got this feeling that if I even outline the ideas that have been flowing through my head, if I even commit a shadowy skeleton of them to paper, they will disappear. It feels good to be the only one to see them right now. Even writing about sketching them feels risky. I can’t begin till I have all my materials anyway. And they haven’t arrived yet.

Thursday, September 09, 2010


I know I've been unusually quiet here.  It was an entirely unplanned break, but one I need.  A break in my routine so I can come back to it feeling refreshed.

Plus, I've been squirrelled up in my creative brain, getting ready for a new project.  All will be revealed in time, but here's a sneak peek...

Let me explain.  I received my redundancy cheque yesterday.  (Yup, I am now officially an unemployed layabout stay at home mum living the life of Riley).  And I spent a tiny portion of said cheque on these beauties.  I was a tad over-enthusiastic, but embroidery threads are not expensive and there isn't a haberdashery near me and I don't get a chance to pop into town that often so there you go.  When I took them to the till, the check out person asked me if I was sure I had enough colours.  Rather than give the same wordy and boring explanation I just gave you, I told her it was for a community project.  She was duly impressed and didn't ask me any more embarrassing questions.  It's not lying, it's saving face.

Sunday, September 05, 2010


I was going through Jake's baby photos, looking for ones of us "wearing" him and I came across these...

In the kari-me at 2 weeks old.
We didn't use it much in the very early days
because it was so hot when he was born.

16 weeks old

6 months old ~
Around this time Paul started carrying
Jake in the Baby Bjorn

We stopped carrying him at around 10 - 11 months
when he was happy to go in his buggy.
I didn't carry him again until Feb 2010,
when I remember walking around the hospital ward
with him in the Yamo.

Today, looking grumpy at 25 months

And finally, at 6 months.
This photo pretty much sums up my first year of motherhood.

Friday, September 03, 2010


While playing house today,
the afternoon light filtered in through the blanket.

I love September light.

I took the photos above.
Jake took the ones below.

Trains ~ photos taken by Jake

3.9.10 ~ the joys of babywearing

Note: unless you are a babywearing enthusiast, much of this post may well sound like geek-speaky jargon.

The power of thought is astounding. For many many months, I assumed and believed that carrying Jake in a back carrying position in our Yamo carrier would be difficult. In fact I believed it would be impossible for me. So I never even tried it. Just yesterday I got the Yamo out and put it back again almost immediately, exasperated with all the straps and buckles.

But I’ve been having strong feelings of wanting to carry him again and started looking at hip carriers but felt guilty about spending money on another carrier when we already have two. I knew my kari-me sling wouldn’t be supportive enough. It had stopped feeling supportive enough when he was nearly a year old. So I got the Yamo some months ago but had only ever used it in the front carrying position. Lately I’ve been looking at various blogs and sling websites and dearly wishing that I could be one of those people who could pull off a back-carry. Mainly because I lusted after a beautiful woven wrap. But I was sure it just wouldn’t work for me.

Then today, something shifted. I stood up, said, “Damn it, I’m not gonna know unless I try am I?” got out the Yamo instructions and I bloody well did it. I got it on the first try. Jake was a bit freaked out and kept asking to get down, and the straps did need some adjusting, so I let him down and did the adjusting and we tried again. And guess what – it was perfect. I was comfortable, he was comfortable. There was no pain or strain on my back at all. I was just going to go out with him for a short trial walk but ended up going all the way to Sainsbury’s and doing a normal morning out with him. He did get down when we were in Sainsbury’s – to push the basket for me of course, and he also wanted to walk part of the way home. But it was so easy getting him in and out, even when we were out.

It was a revelation. It felt so good I was walking around with a big smile on my face (something that doesn’t come naturally to me!) It also felt great to have him close to me. I loved having him rest his face against my back. He even held and stroked the back of my arms when he started to feel sleepy. It was soooo lovely. Just overcoming this one obstacle made me feel like I could do almost anything. So, the next time you think you can’t do something – think again!

I just wish I’d seen all the pretty patterned carriers before I bought my plain ones. I might have to keep an eye out for a mei-tai for bubba no. 2. (And no, I’m not pregnant yet).

(I've also decided to try the Scootababy on a 5-day hire.  If I like it, there's someone who might be able to sell me her used one at a good price.  Yup, I think I'm a sling addict.)

Thursday, September 02, 2010

2.9.10 ~ Defiance, assertiveness, potayto, potahto?

Yesterday when talking to my counsellor about the one time I defied my mother, she said, “It’s interesting you use the word defy. It sounds to me like you were just standing up for yourself. You were trying to assert yourself as a separate independent person, and yet you internalised it as defiance.”

That stopped me, opened my eyes, made me think. Not just about myself as a child, but how I view Jake’s behaviour. At this age, we tend to use words like tantrum and terrible-twos. But tantrum, like defiance carries a certain connotation. It adds a layer onto the event of a child expressing / asserting himself in the limited way that he knows how to in that moment. A layer that makes it seem as if the act is calculated – designed not only to make life difficult for the parent, but which also makes it seem personal.

The word becomes both a description for the child’s behaviour as an attack as well as a shield to ward it off, and sometimes to justify using some sort of parental attack in return, be it a withdrawal of affection or something more physical. Like defiance, tantrum carries with it connotations of a power struggle, a battle. And use of the word colours the way you see the person, maybe even renders them “fair game”. When they’re toddlers they throw tantrums. When they’re teenagers, they’re defiant.

I’m not saying that these words should never be used, or that they are “wrong”. I for one think that defiance can be healthy and necessary. But the distinction my counsellor pointed out made me want to stop and look at things more carefully.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

1.9.10 ~ 970 word diary (yes it's long, but there are pictures at the end)

Having talked this morning in counselling about how (throughout my childhood and into my teens and beyond) my parents routinely gave me nonsensical reasons why I couldn’t do something, particularly if it meant going out, either with or without them, to do something that wasn’t planned or anticipated by them in advance, and how it ruined most of my summer holidays growing up and probably instilled a sense of unfounded anxiety about the outside world within me, I was even more aware than usual of any tendencies I might have to do that with Jake. So, this afternoon, when he was crying and asking repeatedly to be held (Cuggle now, cuggle now) – much longer and more persistently than usual – I let go of my plan to get him to fall asleep during our walk through Walthamstow marshes and got him out of the pram and cuddled him. Nap times have been difficult to predict anyway lately. Some days he hasn’t napped at all. Other days, he’s had shorter naps than usual. And all at different times. Just yesterday I’d been preparing myself for the fact that he might be dropping his naps altogether and then he dropped off for an hour and a half.

Lately he’s also been wanting to be held a lot more, both at home and when we’re out and about. So much so I’ve been wondering whether I should start using the sling again, dodgy back or not. And lately when I’ve taken him to nursery, he bursts into tears as soon as we get to the entrance. Sometimes he even starts whimpering as soon as we turn left as we leave the house. This morning he was crying well before we got there and when we did get there, he cried harder and kept saying, “Mummy now, mummy now.” It’s the only time I can’t make it better. It’s the only time I walk away, leaving him in tears.

So, when I stopped the pram and we sat on the pavement and I thought about why I needed to get him to sleep by a certain time or why I felt we had to head back home by 2pm, I was aware that these timeframes came from something inside me – a belief that if things went according to these timeframes, then they were controllable and I wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed. And then Jake interrupted my thoughts. He was busy pointing up at the sky and saying “Wow!” and seeing dragonflies and airplanes and birds and asking me, “Mummy happy now?”

Structure is important. Trying to get them to sleep when they’re tired is important too. But I don’t want to be dogged about it. I don’t want to be inflexible. Most of all, I don’t want to act out of fear.

So I let the day be what it was. The 1st day of September, but still late summer. If he was older and going to school, it might be the last day of his summer holidays. As it was, we were both free. We didn’t have anywhere we had to be. No obligations. Paul wasn’t even going to be home till way after Jake’s bedtime.

It was a beautiful day. The kind of day I’ve always loved. That late summer light. The warmth of the sun without the scorch of it. The way there seems to be a feeling of things settling down, like sitting down to read a good book in the garden. The frenetic-indolent extremes of summer had passed.

So I followed Jake's lead. He agreed to go back in his pram to go look at trains. We found a nice spot on some grass with a good view of the train lines. I think he’d resigned himself to being strapped in there because he was really surprised when I asked him if he wanted to get out. We lay the picnic blanket out and he ran around happily, eating clementines and chocolate cake, turning around every now and then to give me a hug and point at me saying, “Mummy happy now!”

After a while, he decided he wanted to go. I let him lead the way. We went under the bridge and then through a kissing gate into another bit of the marshes. Lots of people were out walking with their kids and their dogs. We stood and then sat watching the trains for a bit longer, till he asked to go home. So I told him that if he got in his pram, I’d give him my camera and he could take pictures. He agreed.

On the walk home, I kept telling myself that it was okay if he didn’t fall asleep. Then he yawned. Near home, he said, “Tired. Go seep now.” I just said, “I know darling, Mummy’s tired too.”

I then decided that I would try and persuade him to lie down for a nap with me when we got home rather than pushing the pram till he fell asleep. Just as we turned down our road, his eyelids started drooping. I knew that if I let him fall asleep then, I’d have to be pushing him round for another 15 minutes otherwise he’d wake up as we got home and I tried to get him out of the buggy. So I took him out of the pram and decided to let him fall asleep on my shoulder. As I did he said, “Cuggle now?” then fell asleep.

He’s now been asleep for nearly an hour. To lessen some of the anxiety I have about being with Jake for the rest of the day without Paul, I plan to order in some Chinese food and watch last night’s Eastenders and Holby City whilst Jake plays with his trains. Then again, who knows how the evening will go.

Walthamstow Marshes, taken by Jake

31.8.10 ~ 225 word recipe (Rustic bean & quinoa soup, aka hearty slapdash meal)

Chop up the half onion languishing in your fridge.

Drop into a large saucepan with some olive oil and cook for a few minutes.

Sprinkle in some garlic granules. 

Add what’s left of the carton of sieved tomatoes from the fridge along with a few shakes of whatever dry herbs you fancy. Let it all simmer on a lowish heat, stirring occasionally.

Rummage through your kitchen cupboards for the macaroni and find an open packet of white quinoa you didn’t know you had. Change your mind in the middle of cooking and ditch the macaroni.

Thoroughly rinse a handful of quinoa, pondering once again whether they are grains or seeds*, and simmer in a separate pan for 15 – 20 minutes.

Put the kettle on.
Once boiled, make 500ml of stock in a measuring jug and add to the simmering tomatoes. 

Then add the drained & cooked quinoa along with a tin each of drained borlotti and butter beans (or any beans or pulses you fancy).

Taste.  Add more stock powder.**
Let simmer for another 10 minutes while you wash up or read your book.

Taste.  Sprinkle with yeast flakes and a drizzle of olive oil.
Serve with the last of Paul’s homemade bread.^^

The verdict?

“You can cook, you can” says Paul.

And because it’s all so dang healthy, follow with handfuls of Kettle Crisps.

(*They’re grain-like seeds)

**I used Marigold's vegan buillon. 
~ Makes approximately 4 large servings
~ This soup is naturally vegan.  That is, even if I weren't making it for a vegan, it would still be vegan.

^^For Helen :-)
Here's the recipe Paul used to make his bread: