January – a sad start to the year after the loss of my Dad; cold weather
February – ahhhhhh, sun and sea and family in Cape Town for three weeks: good times – a birthday, a cricket match, a grown-up weekend away, lots of days at the beach.
March – more snow;
April – 8 years married – still loving it; sunshine at last and afternoons in the garden; D learns to ride his bike; weekend with good friends in Ely
May – paddles in the canoe; visits from my Canadian aunt and cousins; apple blossoms and yellow poppies in the garden; first visit to the dentist; Gran arrives to help out with…
June – the arrival of our littlest; first sports day; walks; family to stay; fun with friends; strawberry picking; five of us climb a hill
July – summmer holidays; braiis in the garden; sunflower growing; a precious week away in Gardenstown; a new citizen is added to the United Kingdom.
August – birthday parties; a flower show; first day of school
September – another birthday; a ceilidh; a dedication service; some family feasts; a final harvest of apples
October – an eighty-year old and a three-month old enjoy each others company;
November – cold; leaves turn slowly; a long weekend in Edinburgh; D loses his first tooth; E gets her first tooth. Not enough sleep.
December – Christmas parties; Christmas food – time to celebrate.
Once upon a time, a little boy whose name began with D brought home a sunflower from nursery. His Granny helped him to plant it in a great big plant pot. It was much smaller than he was. (That was on the 21st of June). It grew and grew and grew and grew. Soon it was over the little boy’s head.
It kept growing all through summer until it was nearly autumn. It grew taller than his daddy. Finally, the flower came out. The little boy had to stand on his Daddy’s shoulders to see the petals. It was 234cm tall. The sunflower opened the same day the little boy’s Grandpa left to fly home to Cape Town. It was like a big yellow flag waving good bye.
I like to think that I will make my children a present for birthdays and Christmas. Last year, I made K two little mice from Martha Stewart. This year, I decided on felt lollipops, sweets and ice-cream. I drew round some ice-lolly moulds, cut out two pieces, sewed them together, stuck the ice-lolly sticks in and stuffed them. Ta da! Ice-cream cones were made from a semi-circle of felt sewed onto a piece of card-board to stiffen them then simply stuck together into a cone shape. Large pompoms make ice-cream. Sweets I simply made from two strips of felt glued and rolled up. (I could have sewn where I used glue but I was making this late at night before K’s birthday.)
We also bought Kirsten a cash register. So we were all set for a play shop. Beads wrapped in tissue paper, plasticine lollipops, bars of chocolate (wooden bricks wrapped in foil and paper wrappers) and some cupcakes we already had completed the stock. Buttons seem to make the best money. A bag for shopping and “What would you like from my shop today, Mrs Bey?” (That’s what my kids say when we’re playing shops.)
So little K’s birthday party happened last Saturday. I imagine that it involved everything that a little girl could want: wings, a treasure hunt, cake, pink heart biscuits (thank you, Sarah!), bubbles, friends and family and lots of butterflies. We even had a Tinkerbell cake, complete with glitter (thank you, Great!). The guests were sweet: lovely and enthusiastic about all the activities. The sun shone and our tent in the garden was pretty and warm (thank you for putting it up, the two Mr M’s – it was the canvas from our gazebo, draped over our washing line). I think the tent was an inspiration: it looked pretty and gave the girls a place to play. We did face-painting there (thank you, Hannah!) and butterfly tattoos (thank you, Han-Marie!). We even read a story there at the end of the morning.
The party started with decorating their wings with sparkly stickers and ribbons. Next, looking suitably pretty, it was out to the garden to hunt for butterflies (thank you granny) and marbles (they sparkled beautifully in the wet grass). We only played a three games: musical statues, sleeping butterflies and pass the parcel. As they opened the parcel, each girl got a packet of beads and some elastic to make a bracelet. We blew bubbles and played on the climbing frame. We ate the cake half way through. The party finished with sausages and sausage rolls and jelly. There were plenty of adults around to help (granny, grandpa, two uncles, two aunties, one great-granny and a couple of mums). I couldn’t help but notice that, unlike at my boys party last month, there were moments of complete quiet. The girls were busy sticking or making or eating or sleeping (yes, in our equivalent of sleeping lions). Ahhhhhhh… lovely.
I have just waved goodbye to both my little people as they set off with Granny and Grandpa to be walked to school and playgroup respectively. I came in and sat down here for five minutes and read Kate’s blog about her little boy’s first day at school and although I had planned to post something else entirely, I realised this is the time of year where mother’s everywhere are letting go and feeling the wrench. I remembered this beautiful poem, written by C.D. Lewis for his son when he was 7. Its funny, as at the moment, my boy does not go eddying away from me but charges off to chase his friends all around the play ground. These moments will come though. Read it and relate and be grateful for the power of poets.
Walking Away by Cecil Day Lewis
It is eighteen years ago, almost to the day –
A sunny day with leaves just turning,
The touch-lines new-ruled – since I watched you play
Your first game of football, then, like a satellite
Wrenched from its orbit, go drifting away
Behind a scatter of boys. I can see
You walking away from me towards the school
With the pathos of a half-fledged thing set free
Into a wilderness, the gait of one
Who finds no path where the path should be. Continue reading letting go
Apparently this week is World Breast Feeding week so it seems appropriate to celebrate our beautiful, bouncing one hundred percent breast-fed baby. She really is plump and perfect and I do love to think that at the moment I am able to provide everything she needs to grow and prosper. Amazing.
Breast feeding is amazing but its hard work. Even third time round, I still found the first few weeks difficult. E was so good at feeding right from the start that at least I did not need to worry about her putting on weight. But it was painful, exhausting and awkward. If I hadn’t successfully breast-fed both my other children, I would have been tempted to give up. It is terribly hard for new mothers to persevere when its so difficult to start with and society still seems to make bottle feeding seem simpler. (And I know bottle feeding is a great solution for many.)
But now, almost three months later, breast feeding is so obviously the easiest option for us both: she gets exactly what she needs and the only thing I need to remember is the baby: as long as she’s with me, she’s never going to go hungry. Amazing.
As we approach another birthday for little K, I realise that I didn’t blog much about her actual birthday celebrations last year. I didn’t post anything about this birthday bunting I made, now in its second year. The first half says “Happy’. The butterflies were pinned on specially for K.
On K’s actual birthday we had fun just us on the edge of Tentsmuir forest where we ate a picnic lunch, dug in the sand and blew bubbles over the mud then came home for tea and cake.
Later in the week, five little girls came round and decorated biscuits with sweets while the mummies ate a rather delicious sponge cake filled with cream and strawberries. I was too busy supervising that to take any pictures.
Now I am planning K’s third birthday. There will be a party; there will be butterflies, fairies and plenty of pink; there will be family: two uncles, two aunts, one granny, one grandpa and one great-grandmother. Its going to be a birthday to remember.
In this house, the start of a new school term, means we have just celebrated a little boy’s birthday. This year we chose an underwater theme, strongly influenced by the Octonauts. I had lots of fun preparing for it.
My best buy was a six strings of paper fish, designed to be hung as decorations – we removed them from the strings and used them as props through-out the party. I also bought two metres of plastic material from Dunelm Mill, decorated with a tropical underwater scene. We used half as a table cloth and the rest I cut up into table mats for each child – they took them home with them at the end of the party.
The party started with at treasure hunt for fish in the garden – there were at least 50 to find. Next, we played ‘Octonauts’ – like ‘Captains coming’, but instructions included ‘sound the Octoalert’, ‘Octonauts to the HQ’ and ‘Creature Report’. Musical gups was next with pieces of cardboard as the gups. Break for cake and pass the parcel. Meanwhile, we set up a treasure hunt for plastic gold coins in the sand pit; sweets to fish for – tied to the washing line; magnetic fishing; and feed the shark with wet sponges. The kids were free to enjoy that however they wanted to. We stopped about 12 for lunch, party ended at 12.30. We only had ten children. They seemed to leave happy.
Tomorrow my little boy starts school. As I cradle his littlest sister in my arms I wonder where the last five years have gone. I want every moment with him back, when he was two months old and lay against my neck just like she does now; one year sleeping on his stomach; two years – strong and chubby; three years, four years, five years.
These are D’s first shoes, worn today by Esther for the first time. I bought them before D was born, for my husband on our third wedding anniversary which just happens to be leather. This week we picked up up his black school shoes in size 11. Yes, I’m happy to see him growing every day, but oh how I have loved these first five years with Daniel. After tomorrow, things will never be the same again. For him, though, the best is yet to come.