We just returned from a fun, but exhausting, little trip. A trip to visit family living in London, which includes our two year-old niece. We don’t see her often, but what struck me was how much I love her. It just amazed me how much you can love a child that isn’t your own. She is 10 months older than Alana, so its fun to see what’s, um, coming up. And also get some clues as to what toys and activities our girl will be drawn to, we get to try everything out. Alana spent most of the time in their house sitting at the little toddler table and chairs, straining to reach for the markers. And so our table and chairs arrives tomorrow.
Another fun thing about our trip was the chance to go shopping and plan some new projects. Although I knit less these days, I still buy yarn but am pretty good at buying for particular projects and then actually making the thing soon after. Thanks to Ray Stitch and Loop my girl will soon be getting some mustard cord dungarees, and a Caribou cardigan. Its amazing too how quickly you can browse, decide and buy in a craft shop with a toddler in tow. Five minutes in each shop, and it was done.
I got back to some happy mail, some shiny new blended fibre from HilltopCloud. At the start of the month I signed up for the Tour de Fleece, got incredibly excited about it, and then as always, gave up after a couple of days. This time I’m blaming my tools – my fibre stash isn’t very big and each thing I tried spinning was a bit rubbish. Then I managed to spin some beautiful Hedgehog Fibres merino and made maybe the worst skein of yarn ever. All a bit demoralising. So I treated myself to something new, and this time it’s lovely. I’m going to spin for a true 3-ply, to keep a nice depth to all the different fibres and colours.
Soon I want to write here about parenting. Every day I find myself keeping quiet about my parenting views in some situation or another. What we do works for us and we seem to be raising a fairly happy child, but I keep quiet I think because of some deep-down embarrassment or fear that I’ll be told that I’m doing it wrong. Or maybe, because I don’t want other people to think I disapprove of their very-different methods. Which is ridiculous really, we all do the best we can.
My vegetable garden, made with such love and care a couple of years ago is now a meadow. Taming it will be a job for next year I think, but I’m not sure I want to. There is a little growing however – since creating a permanent run for the chickens rather than having them loose in the garden (chicken poop + toddler didn’t seem like a good combination) I’ve been able to plant a few things at the back door and not have the pots acting as dust baths five minutes later. Its just strawberries and herbs, but its a start. Alana pointed excitedly at the one red strawberry today, hopefully next year she’ll have her own little plot.
And for the first time, the apple tree we planted after Charlie died is covered in little fruits. I can’t find many more words about that today, but seeing Alana’s little clothes hanging from the line beside his tree is a little bittersweet.
Alana started off as a wonderful night-time sleeper. Like many mothers, I vividly remember hovering my hand on her chest at 4am, just to make sure that she was still ok. Could she really still be asleep? She slept like that for 5 days back in the summer but since then life has been too exciting. There is too much to see and marvel at and for Alana, sleep gets in the way. Its fine. I really believe that many people have totally unrealistic expectations for baby and toddler sleep. They’re babies. It’s what they do, and what they need. And as much as I miss sleeping through the night, the extra nighttime cuddles are fine by me too. Things have improved recently though, exactly at the same time as she decided that walking round and round and round the living room is an Important Task that must be done.
I think we adapt too, a couple of years ago being woken at 5am would have seemed like torture, but now its just when the day starts. Usually I’m pretty awake. Alana certainly is. That’s not to say that I don’t cling to my vat of tea, blearily pottering about (ok, cleaning) the kitchen while my babe runs about in her walker with total delight that she is awake! mama is awake! she has things to say! dada dada! wow wow wow! MA! MA! You get the idea… I love it.
Pictures were taken a little later once daylight arrived. This is Scotland, after all. But the mornings are getting lighter and it won’t be long before we are outside first thing, watering my yearly (and always failing) attempt at tomato plants, feeding chickens and hanging out washing. And this year I’ll have a little helper with me, marvelling at it all.
At 8.05am today I was up, getting my girl dressed, and thinking about how at that exact moment three months before, her little body was pulled out and suddenly appeared on my chest. How can it be three months already? In some ways it seems like I’ve known her much longer, and I suppose I have. She started kicking and pounding me back in September and thankfully never stopped.
I still feel like the luckiest mama in the world. Obviously I am biased, but I am in awe that we made something so beautiful and perfect. I grew a person…the human body is so amazing it blows my mind. But then I am still amazed by the telephone…
Alana is such a good baby, and a good night-time sleeper, now. She smiles at everyone, especially older people and laughs at our silly faces. She likes to move and dance and chatter away to us. I feel like she’ll be an early talker, she will have a conversation with anything. She loves to look at the books we read to her, and splash me in the bath. So far I’ve only found three things she objects to – the baby seat trolleys in the supermarket, being squirted in the face with milk, and putting her arms in jackets. That all seems reasonable to me.
And because lots of people asked on twitter, yes, the quilt is handmade. The pattern is Storytime Squares Quilt by Made by Rae. Fabric is lots of random bits. Cardigan is ravelled here.
How can it be Friday already? It’s been a good week, and what feels like a productive one. Alana is sleeping well at night so I no longer hunt and hope for a afternoon nap, and a nice daytime routine is forming. The weather is lovely today so we took Penny for a surprise lunchtime walk. Its so nice to be on these same paths as always, pass the same dog walkers and even walk past the tree I held onto while feeling the first contractions of labour. All is the same, but now there are three of us breathing the spring air. Walkers I haven’t seen for a while come rushing up to meet our girl and tuck money into her knitwear, a local tradition that I find bemusing, but sweet.
Friday is becoming a day of quiet here. I was thinking today about what how different it is, going from spending my days with only my pup, to having another tiny human at home and always with me. It’s a wonderful adjustment, but an adjustment all the same. And so we are enjoying it today, with baby naps and snuggles, and our new trick – feeding in the sling, on the move, and taking pictures of it at the same time! (the last photo). We’ve been trying it at home this week, and when Alana got thirsty on the walk, she just latched on and we kept on going. Penny was grateful, Alana (and her mama) were happy and none of the other dog walkers looked twice.
Few words today, Alana is having a post-nursing snooze in my arms. But I sewed this little dress up over the last couple of evenings. So sweet and lovely. As is her new dress.
She seems to find it (or something) funny. Today has been filled with grins and baby laughter, and some very contented napping. All is good.
Pattern is here, by Leila and Ben. I am on the hunt for more sweet baby sewing, so let me know if you have suggestions. And that was more words than I thought I’d manage!
We headed outside today. The vegetable garden is a bit like a time warp, exactly as I left it back in July when pregnancy symptoms were in full force and I was so scared that something, anything, could cause things to go wrong. I remember so clearly this time last year, when I was venturing into the garden for the start of new season and being so unbearably sad that I was doing these little springtime tasks alone, rather than with the child that should have been there with me. Of course this year it is all different. Alana slept in her sling as I cleared away a few old pots and planted some seeds. My vegetable gardening plans this year are pretty tame, just lots of potatoes and a few things in the greenhouse. I think in the past I’ve been a bit ambitious and it all gets a bit overwhelming. I hope she loves being outside as much as me. I want to her know the smells, and the feel of the earth. Is it selfish to hope that your children love the same things as you? I want her to love what she loves too.
But anyway. There are lots of dead vegetables. Some gigantic weeds. The kind so big that if you dig them out you leave a huge, clear patch of earth. A couple of weeks ago we had some tall, wobbly trees cut back and my lovely inlaws have chopped and cleared the wood while we were up north. The chickens are as cheeky as ever. They gathered at the gate while we explored and I swear they were whispering excitedly to each other ‘the lady is back growing things, sure, the man build a new fence but we will find our way through!’ Sure enough, I turned and when I looked back Scarlet was pecking about on the wrong side of the fence. I have no idea how she did it. She looked pretty proud of herself, as if she just wanted to show me that she could.