One beautiful year ago, my little girl was born. I still think of her as a baby, but look how she’s grown. Crawling, standing but not walking; saying mama and dad but not really talking. Laughing when she’s not crying; happy most of the time she’s awake. Good at sleeping. Very much a part of our family with her own expressions and her own voice. Today we celebrated with family and it was fun to have everyone here for a feast. I remember the relief I felt after when my other two turned one and I started to get a little more sleep and feel a little less exhausted and more of myself again. The peonies and poppies in our garden are blooming, just as they were this time a year ago when our little girl was born.
Yesterday it felt and looked like spring and we spent the afternoon tidying up the garden a little with the help of my sister. I love the yellowness of spring flowers and the way it is so often paired with bright pink or purple in combinations I would never enjoy anywhere else. Look at the colours of this flowering currant! And this forsythia. (I must pick some and bring it inside – the bush is need of pruning anyway.)We have daffodils and primroses coming up, and the hundred tulips I planted in November (very late) have beautifully healthy looking leaves about 8cm tall. I can’t wait to see the flowers. Little E was out in our tent, exploring the leaves and grass and sticks – and anything else she could reach and get into her mouth. D and E were running around in bare feet.Today is grey, again, and cold and wet. Still, we have our promises of spring. We can wait a little longer.
I was given some lovely Christmas presents this year and I want to take a moment to celebrate the hand made and home made that I received. Firstly, this special bag of treats, all made by the amazing Chrissie and Jamie. How good does this look?And hidden inside – jelly, tablet, elderberry juice, christmas tree oatcakes and glittery shortbread stars. So beautiful and so delicious.Next up, three presents from the skilled fingers of my clever sister: a hand knitted wash cloth so delicate its too pretty for washing dishes; a cross stitch initial for baby E; and a jar of apple jelly – see how it glows! Last by not least, this jar of chutney came from my brother-in-law – its very good. (He actually gave us two, but one has already been devoured.) Present giving: what a great opportunity to celebrate creativity. Thank you, all!
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.
Summer has definitely come to an end here this last week. I’ve got out my boots and a warm jumper. We’ve lit the first fire in the stove and reluctantly turned the heating on. In the garden the plums on our tree are finally ripening. Our apple trees are weighed down with fruit. Rowan berries are bright. A few leaves on every tree are yellow among the green. After such a good summer, I welcome autumn: I love the brilliant colours and mild days; the yellow fields, the bales stacked high; I even enjoy trying out my warm clothes for the first time in months. But still I feel a little heavy at the thought of seven months of cold, layers, dark mornings and short afternoons. I’d better enjoy this time between the seasons while I can.
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.
Is this a word? Inspired by my friend Brie when I came across this on her blog, I started to spot palets everywhere: common and grubby industrial palets and expensive, designer ones, like this one at fcuk home. I liked the idea, but soon realised that a 9ft square palet was not going to add anything to our smallish rooms, however much I embellished it. And that’s when I spotted this little beauty outside a welder’s workshop in Forfar.
Of course he said I could have it so I brought it home and set to work. Thankfully I got some help with the sanding, painting and attaching of castors rom Mr M. Little K also wielded a paint brush. We stuck a sheet of plywood on the bottom to create a lower shelf. The castors we used were an old set removed from a chest of drawers (they seemed quite similar to the fcuk ones). The end result is pleasing and is proving quite useful for playing lego on. A nice little adventure in diy and right on trend: have you heard of ‘rustic utilitarian’? I read it about it here. Oh yes, rustic utilitarian, that’s us, right there.
Our garden is truly over-run by these poppies and I spend a lot of my time trying to dig out their enormous roots. But when the flowers come out, as they just have, I have to admit they look pretty nodding under the apple tree, which is currently covered in the palest pink blossoms. Yesterday, my son presented me with this bunch (picked with the help of his grandmother.) I’m surprised by how lovely they look on my windowsill.
Its funny how much more energy I have for rearranging a room, than for simply tidying it. Well, this week I was struck by sudden inspiration. It happened after I showed one unexpected visitor too many into our downstairs living room. This is the room where we played, watched TV, used the computer, read stories, ate meals, did crafts … and where visitors come in.
Now, it wasn’t meant to be like that, because we have a beautiful upstairs room that we had set up as our ‘good’ sitting room. Unfortunately, it seemed impossible to direct visitors upstairs, away from all the mess. So they always came in through toys, books, bags, shoes, crayons and paper and clothes. Planned visits weren’t much better: that involved some frantic tidying and clearing of the ‘dining’ table but it still felt like we were eating in the playroom.
It came in a flash and was the work of an evening: we swapped the rooms over. For the last week, the upstairs room has been our family room and the downstairs room is a toy-free grown-up space. (I should have thought of it sooner: when we had a family of friends to stay for a week, the grown-ups spent their time downstairs and the children disappeared upstairs to play).
It works so well: I don’t need to worry about mess; the children have more room to play; we spend more of the day upstairs in what is a lovely, bright and truly beautiful room (its also warmer for some reason); we have a proper room downstairs for relaxed entertaining – where it will feel ok to eat, sit, chat and relax.
I feel like our house has finally landed and I’ll post some pictures: just as soon as I’ve done a little bit of tidying.