Monday, 31 October 2011

Rain face

Ooh, just what I need!

Today I finally accepted what my body has been telling me for weeks: I am clinically depressed. Last night I had a panic attack (which has never happened to me before) and was sat in bed, shivering with fear - terror - that something awful was happening/going to happen to me/the baby.

I have been very emotional with this pregnancy and experienced terrible mood swings, but had assumed (talked myself into thinking) that my symptoms were no worse than with either of my previous pregnancies, especially now I have two under-fives to care for. However, usually I've found that the second trimester is the eye of the storm for me, the time when I can really enjoy the idea of the baby in my body growing and changing every day, and make contact with her, by touch or thought.

Not this time. Every time I think of her, a flutter of anxiety starts in my belly, and if I continue to think about her - even positive, warm thoughts, the anxiety turns into a quaking loss of gravity when I start to panic that at any moment her precious hold on life - through me - is going to slip and I'll lose her.

Nonsense, of course - I know she's healthy and that I've carried two girls full-term before and have no (physical) health problems of my own - but that fear is very real.

So, the manic tidying, sorting, cleaning and clothes-washing can finally be put aside now I've stopped avoiding the problem and have started the process of getting help. As I'm back to having no transport now Jude's working, I emailed an NCT advisor and also got in touch with a midwife, who hopefully will drop by tomorrow morning for a chat. The advisor has offered to put me in touch with any support groups she can find in the area, or even just other mums to talk to, which in itself will no doubt help.

And just by acknowledging that I have a problem, already I'm calmer with the girls and more able to cope with the day, knowing I've made a positive step forward for myself and for the baby.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Another girl!

Lucky enjoying the sun

Well, I had my 20-week scan yesterday and she's a girl! Jude really would have liked a boy, and up until now we had been talking of 'him', so although he's obviously happy that she's healthy and everything's fine, there's a part of him that is a bit disappointed. I think he really wanted a 'mini-me' to share his love of power tools with.... the girls aren't the slightest bit interested so far!

More good news is that Jude's finally been offered a decent job working for quite a prestigious luxury yacht builder which he's really chuffed about. The slightly bad news was that he had to start the same day as the scan, so he didn't get to see little wriggler in action! Ultrasound scans are just incredible: even though I'm totally aware that there is a baby in there, kicking away, it's quite mind-blowing to be able to SEE the valves of her heart beating, and look inside her brain.... The sonographer was marvellous - she obviously really loved her job - and she talked me through everything she was looking at whilst she was taking all the measurements. Often they are so numb to the fact that the mother is actually looking at her unborn baby that they just go through the motions of pointing out legs and arms, rather than, as this woman did, talk in real detail about what she could see and why she was interested in certain bits, like the shape of the top of the spine. Absolutely fascinating.

Mind you, I have always been fascinated by the internal workings of the body, wanting to keep any x-rays I've had, in the hope of one day making some artwork out of them, sort of an inner self-portrait. Of course, to actually do it properly, I'd probably need to have some pretty major surgery so I can't really see it happening. It's also surprisingly difficult to get permission to keep your own x-rays.

Leaf and driftwood mobile 

Back at home, we've been doing some crafty stuff with leaves, making mobiles and such. Today the sun is shining fit to burst so we've had all the doors open and actually spent some time outside, which is a huge relief after days of unrelenting rain. Mil is recovering from a chest infection so I'm keeping her swaddled up, and she has a funny rash all over which the nurse at the surgery couldn't identify. It's particularly bad on her cheek, but apart from being a bit itchy it doesn't seem to be bothering her too much. She's improved hugely since she started antibiotics on Tuesday, from being a limp bundle of weepiness to back to normal cheeky monkey.

My new nursing chair!

I've also finally started sanding down a rocking chair I got from a fellow Freecycler, which I had intended to paint white, but am now considering leaving as bare wood, perhaps with just a coat of wax.

Milly sniffing the lavender in the sadly neglected allotment

So much to do in the allotment, it's quite dispiriting: every time I walk through it to feed the chickens with the girls I tend to have blinkers on so I can't see the extent of the chaos. I half-heartedly pull a few obviously wrong bits up, but as much as I want it to be fairly natural and cottage garden-like, it still needs a certain amount of maintenance which I don't feel up to at the moment.

Lavender grown from seed this year, with Cosmos still going strong behind

And still no progress with any material projects..... I just haven't felt the urge for a while, even though I have a gazillion ideas and am starting to panic slightly about the big I have to admit I am thoroughly distracted by Pinterest, which I've just joined: and as someone who used to obsessively cut out pictures from newspapers and magazines to keep for inspiration - a joke in itself as I don't think I've ever referred to them once - it is a magical tool. Finally I can stop hoarding pictures on my desktop and have them all in one place which doesn't involve building an entire new storage system around.... yay!

All in all, a good end to what has been quite a difficult week.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Cherish Your Solitude

Eve Ensler
“Cherish your solitude. Take trains by yourself to places you have never been. Sleep out alone under the stars. Learn how to drive a stick shift. Go so far away that you stop being afraid of not coming back. Say no when you don’t want to do something. Say yes if your instincts are strong, even if everyone around you disagrees. Decide whether you want to be liked or admired. Decide if fitting in is more important than finding out what you’re doing here. Believe in kissing.”
― Eve Ensler

I found this quote scribbled on a scrap of paper whilst clearing out the crap yesterday, and it's reminded me of lots of things I hadn't thought of in a while.... like long train journeys through the beautiful English countryside, and also more difficult moments in my (past) life, when I was deeply uncomfortable with being alone. I say past, as I NEVER have time to myself any more, which, whilst being something I could never dream of doing without - my children and my husband have saved me from losing my way completely - can also be quite tough at times and can be accompanied by very conflicting (and often unnecessary) feelings of guilt and so never entirely alone really.

Last night Jude and I watched American, the Bill Hicks story which not only reminded me of what a great comic he was, but also how strongly he believed in himself and what he HAD to do. He didn't set out to be admired, he just knew he had to tell the truth, even when his own country in particular didn't want to hear it. And so he was (is) admired all the more for it. He was pretty outrageous, but he was funny and spot on with his world-view, and it's a shame there aren't more people in the public eye who are willing to say what they really think.

So now, I wish I could have offered this quote to my younger self - and watched more Bill Hicks before he died. It takes so long to learn how to live each day to its fullness, and to have faith in yourself and your heart.

We went walking on Common Moor last weekend, hence all the pics of horses. It was the first in a long time that I have stood still and been unable to hear any human sound. Although not quite complete wilderness, it did feel good to stand between sky and earth with no distractions. It would have been a good place to have slept out under the stars.

 ...the next time we go I'll take some replacement batteries for the sodding camera and get the photos I wanted to take of the perfect place to camp: next to a lake in an abandoned quarry.... beautiful!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Walking in sunshine and a tiny flutterby

After the painting session this morning we all went out for a lovely walk in the woods and Jude spotted this pretty little butterfly - the tiniest I've ever seen! I've just found out it's a small copper.

The girls had a great time, got completely covered in mud and had a good run around. We didn't fare so well on the foraging front as the squirrels have had all the hazlenuts and none of the sweet chestnuts were ripe enough to bother with... we did find lots of haycorns though!

And yes, this is a pic of Milly LICKING Jude's head - don't ask...

Then when we got back Jess and I created this out of the paintings from yesterday:

which Jess was really pleased with, as she's been waking up every morning for the last three days wanting to cut out the fish! Good day had by all :)

Paint, glorious paint!

The girls have been painting happily alongside each other today for a change, which is lovely. I popped inside to check on our rock buns (on the tanned side)...

... and this is how I found them when I came back, both thrilled with their face-painting, cheeky monkeys!

And yesterday's work while Mil slept:

We've got plans for the paintings once they've dried - borrowed from Jane Hissey's lovely story of the toys painting together :) tbc...

Wednesday, 12 October 2011


White white white.... it is slowly coming together:

Since recovering my energy somewhat now I'm in the magical 2nd trimester, I have been on a mission to sort out the house. So I've been ordering shelf-making from Jude and sending him off for plastic boxes so I can put everything in order. I guess my subconscious is telling me that time is running out to do all of this before no.3 appears and I have to go back to sitting around all day breastfeeding... as much as I always wanted to be able to sling the baby round my neck and let her get on with it as I'm getting on with my day, it's never happened that way.

It's also very cleansing somehow to get everything in order: I've never been happy to wallow in chaos for too long, and when I'm pregnant it seems to drive me even more loopy, having to pull everything out of a cupboard to find that one thing you know is lurking in there SOMEWHERE. And even though my sewing projects have slowed right down since I started hand sewing the white quilt, I really want to be able to access my overflowing stash so I can alternate more easily between slow and speedy. I've rushed some parts of the white embroidery, which I kind of didn't mind too much at the time, but the more I look at it now, the more irritating it becomes. The white gets to me after a while too - I think especially when I'm feeling low in myself, a little injection of bright colour does me good: a bit of tropical warmth on a grey Cornish day.

So perhaps I need to get a little crazy again...

I've been playing around with the blog lately, sorry for all the changes, I should have got it all worked out before I started, but there you go... let me know what you think, my two lonely followers/wanderers and anyone passing by :) xx

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Giant Carrots

These are the carrots I pulled from the allotment yesterday. As you can see they're enormous! There's something a little wrong with the one on the right: I'm tempted to assume it's club-root as it looks so apt, but I'll have to look it up. If it is, it means I have to be really consistent with crop rotation. I've no idea what kind they are - possibly Autumn King, but really not sure - the allotment is almost impossible to navigate with overgrown squashes sprawling everywhere, and the debris of all the summer-flowering stuff that's come to an end, and as result I didn't even realise I was standing on top of some of these until I parted the greenery.... I originally had every intention of keeping the veg area nice and tidy, everything in pretty rows, but what with having knee surgery in May and then getting pregnant in June, followed by 3 months of nausea, everything has fallen into chaos.

Any day now I intend to get back to work up there and get clearing and sowing.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Coping with emotional children and broken gadgets

I read a great article this morning which made a load of sense to me, as right now Jess is really pushing us both all the time, and Jude and I find it really hard to stay calm with her. She fights with Milly all the time, over anything at all, and unless one of us sits with them both to act as mediator and go-between, it can go on all day. So, if I'm cooking or trying to do anything else, all I hear is screaming from them - "Mine, mine!" "No, Mil, NOOOOO!!!! MINE!" etc, which just makes me roar at both of them, which then results in Jess bursting into tears. Clearly we can't go on like this, as it's not teaching them how to control their emotions if all they see is Mummy losing it whenever they're cross....

She also hits Jude a lot, and laughs at him if he reacts to it in any way, especially if he's really hurt. Even when I've tried to talk to her about her behaviour when she's calm, it doesn't change, and she is often quite hysterically abusive, hitting and laughing, then crying if she's stopped. It's really hard to understand her at the moment.

So, I'm glad to have found the article and I'm hoping to put it into practice so I can be calmer and help Jess, in particular, deal with her own feelings.

My camera is busted, I foolishly left it in the funbus and little fingers got into the lens yesterday and well, that's it for the Coolpix.... luckily I have a back-up which seems to be working OK. Phew. Unfortunately on the same day Jude sat on his phone and cracked the screen, so now we both have broken phones as well. Not a good day for gadgets.

The white project is proceeding in it's own fashion: I've now got going on the fourth section, which has a big satiny moon on it, and is slightly more landscape inspired. I'm starting to get more of a sense of how it will look as a whole, though I'm still not totally confident about stitching it all together.... I kind of like how it's all a little wonky, I'm glad straight lines defeat me so easily, it makes it look a little richer somehow.

Some wildflowers collected a couple of days ago from the fields around us: I picked them knowing that the farmer will be killing them all on the next rotation when he sows the next crop and adds weedkiller.
The ones I've identified so far are tufted vetch (you can see the pretty paired leaves in the bottom pic), along with two I didn't know before: charlock (the yellow flower above right) and common fumitory on the left. The seeds and young shoots of charlock are both edible, but it is detested by farmers as the seeds can survive for half a century.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Bring on the booze! hic

Here's an awful blurry pic of Jude (he says he looks like 'a piggy version of Tom Waits') bottling up Blackcurrant wine which he started fermenting in June. He's also got Blackberry & Elderberry and Red & Whitecurrant on the go...  but sadly we'll have to wait a year for both of them to be drinkable (yeah right). We're talking 70-100 bottles of each kind so there's a helluva shedful out there already, and more to make. The freezer is still full of gooseberries, plums, blackcurrants & blackberries and more elderberries so he'll have plenty to be getting on with over Winter (whilst he's glugging back the Blackcurrant). Chin chin.

Note to self: Be kinder to myself

I just read a great post on Authentic Parenting about the emotional journey of pregnancy and how it can bring out lots of deeper feelings and emotions that maybe haven't been consciously dealt with, and it just hit a nerve with me as I've been feeling pretty crappy today. It's easy to blame moods on hormones and pass them off as of no more consequence than a chemical imbalance in the brain, but often there is something calling out for attention from deeper within the psyche. I've realised my inner child has been in a pretty bad way today and actually needs a bit of nurturing after all the tantrums she's had, trying to get my attention.

On a plus note, there's an excellent book giveaway on the same blog which is about night-weaning, a subject I dimly recollect struggling with when Milly was a little younger - it's amazing how fast our brains erase the awful bits of parenting, isn't it? Even now, although it's a long time since she was waking for feeds, she wakes at least once a night and needs me to put her back under the covers, so I don't know how much sleep I'm going to get (if any) once new baby appears next March.... I think I'll need all the help I can get by then!

Warning: boob shot!

My first home-made marmalade!

So here is the result of several hours of peeling, slicing, boiling.... six and a half jars of wonderful Green Tomato Marmalade! Yum. I added a little crystallised ginger to it which gives a lovely bite to the sweetness of the tomatoes.  I'm still not entirely confident about getting the setting point right with jam-making, but it'll still taste good even if it is a bit runny. In fact, one of my favourite creations this summer was Apple and Blackberry Jellyish which, whilst not having the ideal jelly texture I had intended, is absolutely fab dribbled over Greek yoghurt.

And more good news - our newly acquired hens have finally started laying!! Hooray! Nearly a month ago we took two ex-battery hens and a little bantam from a couple who didn't want to keep them any more and we've been waiting ever since for them to lay. The ex-batteries were in quite a state still, with missing feathers, and as they were totally unused to being completely free-range it took them a long time to adjust to having a quarter of an acre to roam about in: they didn't seem to know what to do with themselves and spent most of their day hiding under the whitecurrant bushes. We treated them with some red mite powder last week even though we couldn't really see any evidence of infestation (apart from the feathers dropping out & lack of eggs), and it seems to have made a big difference, as they look much healthier. The little pointy ones at the top are from the bantam and the enormous pale ones are from the batteries. None of them have names yet, unlike our original girls, Nellie & Gertie. Suggestions welcome!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Green Tomatoes

This is the last but one crop of tomatoes from the greenhouse. They seem to be taking forever to ripen up (I'm guessing that's due to lack of sunshine) so I've had enough and plan to turn them into Green Tomato Marmalade, which can be found here. I have to leave it all overnight to 'macerate' apparently, so I'll let you know how it goes. This year I grew plum tomatoes, two kinds of cherry toms, marmandes (the lumpy-looking one middle left in the basket) and tigerellas (stripey). Next year I'm not sure I'll do as many if I grow any at all. As nice as fresh toms are, they're very hungry and time-consuming to grow, so with baby no. 3 due in March I don't think I'll have time.

macerate |ˈmasəˌrāt|
verb [ trans. ]soften or break up (something, esp. food) by soaking in a liquid.• [ intrans. become softened or broken up by soaking.archaic cause to grow thinner or waste away, esp. by fasting.

Last night I started composing the third piece of the white quilt, but it hasn't come together as easily as the first two, so I'm wondering if it's a sign I need to be getting on with something else for a bit instead. Sometimes I think it's a good idea to just let a project sit for a while so that you can come back to it with a fresh brain. I do have plenty of other things I keep meaning to finish, and of course there is still the allotment which needs to be dealt with before winter sets in for good. There is one last window for sowing seeds in the Autumn before the big wait until Spring (which will be a busy time anyway) and I've already run out of time for a few things I had wanted to do, so I have to get going with peas and beans for a nice early Spring crop.

This morning I sorted out all the girls clothes into boxes to put into the cupboard in Jess's room, which Jude has built new shelves for at last, which was very satisfying. I always collect stacks of clothes for when they're older (as well as keeping everything no. 1 has worn to pass down) and every now and then it just needs a good sort out so I can actually get to them when they're needed. My lovely friend passes on anything she can't use as well so it all usually ends up just piled up any old how, so it's a real relief to have some order to it all. At the end of the day there is WAY too much - more than they could ever wear - but I can't bear to donate it Just In Case. Left to my own devices I'm a terrible hoarder anyway, so it's even worse with a family.

So - on with the curtains! Gosh, my life's exciting ;)

Monday, 3 October 2011

A spot of sunshine

It never stops amazing me just how much difference a bit of sunshine can make. We've had glorious weather here for the last couple of days and as a result have spent most of the time at the beach, the nearest one to us being about 20 minutes away. We've had a lovely time! It should set us up nicely for the dark days ahead.... I do wish we lived in a more temperate climate, and whilst I could never cope with the incessant sunshine of say, California, just a few months of real summer would make us all happy.

Jude hasn't heard back from his last job interview, so I'm guessing he didn't get it. I don't mind, it's so nice having him at home, though he, I know, would prefer to be earning. The new car we bought for £600 seems to be OK apart from an odd suspension-y noise and a little smoke. The girls think it's great - it's our funbus! - and they love just playing in it on the drive, so if it does turn out to be a lemon, we'll just park it up in the allotment and they can play in it up there!

I've been meaning to make some curtains for our front room for a while now, especially as the nights are starting to draw in. I've had some lengths of fabric which I made when I was first given my sewing machine earlier this year just sitting around waiting to be put together but haven't got round to doing anything more with them, so any day now I fully intend to get cracking with it... but I've been feeling so lazy lately, that sitting and handsewing seems a much easier propositon. I still have loads of things I need to do in the allotment - it's such a mess up there - but again, it seems like hard work at the moment!

Current project is all white

This is the latest project I've started, which I'm hoping will end up being a sort of lap-quilt, which could just sit on top of a bed more as decoration than of practical purpose. I've made it with a view of giving it to my MIL for Christmas: whether it'll be anywhere near complete by then I've no idea! It's made up of lots of little scraps of lace and various fabric, including a little bit of knitted mohair on the right, which is all stitched together on a plain backing. The idea is to have lots of layers, some more visible than others and maybe to incorporate some kind of text somewhere within it all. I like the idea of having a piece of work that can take hours of looking at and still give. This is the first time I've tried to make anything like this, even though I've been collecting pieces for it for ever, it seems! It's also the first piece of proper embroidery I've attempted, so I've learnt a lot of stitches already - fly stitch, fancy buttonhole, fern, blanket. As I get more confident, I may put some bolder stitching over the top, but the priority so far has been just to fix the pieces together.

Edit: I have to say, I am totally indebted to the lovely Karen Turner at Stitching Life, whose beautiful work never fails to inspire me, for getting started on this, despite it having been simmering in my brain for years... as without having seen her work I would never have got going. Ta! :)


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