Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Leap and the net will appear...

 ….. it’s the title of an album I’ve been listening to a lot recently. Very profound don’t you think? It’s having faith huh? Believing unflinchingly, unquestioningly that you can bring something into being by thought and belief alone. I subscribe to this school of thought wholeheartedly. I truly do. And I’d like to raise my kids knowing this too.  I don't always manage to practice it but it very much agrees with my common sense.

It nourishes me with hope, hope through the challenges that all my deepest yearnings will come to fruition one day.  Some have already, even the ones marked ‘highly unlikely’ as they seemed so out of reach when I dreamed them up as a child.
Is it a paradox too?  Because  I don’t mean you should never question things, no, absolutely question everything until it agrees with your own common sense.
But when it comes to ambition and dreams I don’t think we should limit ourselves in what we want to achieve.


More birthday photo's I had forgotten about in the chaos of our lives - Cliff has been in hospital with severe tonsillitis.  Couldn't swallow anything, not even fluid let alone medicine, that kind of severe!

Doing the book of Gruffalo puzzles he was given by Lily & Mia
 



The Birthday candle I made

   Post-bake pixies come out to clean the bowl!

          ... and I've been making Elderflower Cordial ...
                   ... tee hee, I have 3 litres of it so far!

We’ve been crafty creative creatures here. Inspired by Zander’s big box of art supplies from his birthday I went and bought more. More with meaning.  He’s been asking for a dream catcher.  By chance I found a dream catcher making kit on Myriad, it arrived within 24 hours so we sat outside Saturday morning with a pot of chamomile tea weaving and decorating in the sunshine. Well, I wove, Zander instructed the decoration and soon we had our own dream catcher. He seems to believe unquestioningly that it will work and keep the bad dreams at bay … leap and the net will appear my son!


And our first felting adventures together at home. Felting is addictive! I’ve felted before , it’s so easy and so much fun. I bought a bag of rainbow fairy wool, all natural plant dyes, lovely...


We rubbed and splashed, matted, mixed, squelched and washed most of the afternoon in the sunshine. It has to be the perfect activity for little ones who need to cool off, get messy, play with bubbles, create, destroy and re-create all at once.


I think I’m going to make these first bits into flower petals to stitch onto a little headband as a flower for Gaia, a birthday gift … perhaps Zander might want to learn to sew with his Mama? And yes, yet another birthday on the horizon!

My BIG little girl, ever-so-nearly-two, came ready potty trained, it’s been astonishing! Last weekend I put her in pants, left the potty out and said no more to daytime nappies. I kid you not - we have not had a single accident since, not even when we’ve been out. She goes completely of her own accord, I just have to listen for her excited squeaks of ‘didn’t I!’ letting me know that indeed she did.
It’s almost as if she’s been here before, knows exactly what she’s doing. I get that feeling from her a lot actually. Wise beyond her years. Another leap we’ve taken recently.

Our new book, to compliment the binoculars Zander received for his birthday...


We read it cover to cover for bedtime story last night. I thought they may get bored as it is reference not fiction but after each bird they prompted me to read about the next. Most of them visit our garden already and Robin’s have already been identified by Zander. My grandparents loved watching birds, their garden was a haven. I learnt the names of the birds and their colourings early on and I remember specifically the dusty pink Chaffinch and the cheeky Pied Wagtail that we first recognised on one of our many camping trips with them in the New Forest.


I love reference books for the children, they love picking them out, picking a page.  I think they love that you don’t have to start at the beginning.  And hearing me read about the plethora of things they didn’t know they didn’t know! Informal, autonomous learning.

I would have liked to home educate. But we cannot afford to right now, perhaps one day. Our amazing local Steiner School have applied for government funding but don’t have it yet. We’re caught in a place where we don’t qualify for a bursary, yet we can’t afford it realistically without.

So with a slightly heavy heart I’ve just accepted the place offered in the mainstream. It’s a liberal school, no uniform which was important to me and I know many whose children have been there and they are all lovely. It was my second choice, my first was always going to be oversubscribed. I have mixed feelings. 

I know it will be exciting for Zander, yet it's the fact that my days of being soley responsible for his care, his souls nourishment and needs of all kinds are numbered means I can’t help but feel sadness too.

And a little regret that I’ve not used this precious time to better. Only trouble is I didn’t realise just how short and precious it would be when I sat gazing at my newborn four years ago.

And I bumped into a friend last night at the supermarket ‘want to set up a free school funded with money from the government’ she hollered … a kindred spirit, we ranted. Maybe this is another leap I should take … maybe I’ve not leapt enough recently.

Damn I love them fiercely!

Blessings X

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Birthday!


Zander’s birthday was intimate and happy. He was so excited before he slept one more sleep! we said to one another as I tucked him up. I think I'd like to be four he said, I'd like longer legs.

 

 So I baked, and iced and hung balloons, streamers, gathered photo’s of him from the year just gone to stick on the walls around the dinning table, positioning presents and cards and I especially enjoyed sprinkling a generous helping of pixie dust over the whole lot, for added birthday magic!


Our gifts were a success!  I worried a lot about getting the right sort of gift as although there’s a list as long as his arm of things he thinks he wants – figures, lego, other bits of well marketed plastic ... and although I will embrace his interests I know for a fact that he doesn’t really play with toys.  So we got creative,  figuratively and literally.



.... a telescope, a giant box of craft supplies and a Starwars figure from us brought smiles and many happy hours of creating and playing.







we make a clay foot print every year, paint them, smoother them in glitter and hang them on the stairwell wall.  My little path of gradually growing footprints!

He loves role play, art and nature for sure and thus far my instinct has been proved correct. He's much more a doing person, he likes to let his imagination out on the rampage. 

And you know what - he does love that Obi-Wan Kenobi figure as it was just the one, amongst other beautiful gift rather than one of many similar gifts.  So it has it’s place and I love that my boy has revelled much in many new story books as well. 

We spent happy hours snuggled together reading and an afternoon in the sunny meadows near our house bird spotting with binoculars from Auntie Fi and having impromptu fun climbing on a fallen tree. I love that he hasn’t once mentioned anything else he’d thought he wanted before hand, he doesn’t feel hard done by for the lack of plastic tat (if he does he’s not saying!)



  
We’ve not had a clear enough night for the telescope yet  but when we do I’ll get a fire going in the garden take out blankets and hot chocolates so that we can make an occasion of watching the stars. The Orionids should pass soon for which I have similar plans, another family tradition in the making!
The house is now covered in glitter from the craft box, despite my best attempts to clean it off it is there as a semi-permanent reminder of Zander's fourth birthday.
I baked furiously that night again ready for the birthday picnic playdate.  The threat of rain saw us move locations to our house.  And it’s sods law that it didn’t rain all afternoon, in fact we seemed to be in a bubble of sunshine as the clouds circled round us.





The kids ate and played well, racing up and down with balloons on strings, pots of bubbles and frozen yoghurt pops. One beautiful moment I found them all sitting on the sides of the veg beds eating their yoghurt pop in complete silence.

One little girl told me it was more fun than the Funky Fun House or Cheeky Monkeys – that surely is a compliment from a four year old and proof that you don’t have to try and compete with other mothers, other parties, it can be the simplest of gatherings that gives rise to the most precious of afternoons.

Friendships were reaffirmed and new ones made. The littler ones played well with the bigger ones. As it was supposed to be at a play park I’d not prepared any games or themes yet they were still content and happy and us mummy’s even got a chance to talk too.
And a subtle change has taken place with Zande.  Although, he was disappointed to see his legs weren’t any longer on birthday morning he seems slightly calmer, more thoughtful. He’s growing up, he’ll be going to school next!
So four years into motherhood, wow.  Is it really that long?!  Many thoughts, hopes and aspirations but thats a whole other post ...


Blessings and peace x

Re Birth Day

What an odd, very unexpected, exhausting but beautiful week it was.

I have procrastinated as to how I’m going to write about so much, not wanting to detract from Zander’s big day yet also wanting to capture the peace and reflection that came with my Grandma’s passing. 

I'll start with re-birthdays...

I put everything except Zander’s birthday on hold last week, spending every last moment I could with my Grandma, even biking the twelve miles from our house to her rest home and back on Wednesday evening, anything to hold her hand one more time.

Radically, for me, I joined in a prayer when the chaplin came round to see them. I am not religious and ask anyone – I never pray when in church for weddings/funerals or the likes. It doesn’t agree with my own common sense, yet as my Grandma lay taking shorter and shallower breaths, more barriers fell and I felt all that was important was our humanity, all of us – the young, the old, the priest. What actual harm can it do me to wish alongside others for a peaceful space and journey for my Grandma, it won’t hurt. Perhaps faith is just faith no matter how we define our own, I believe there's more than meets the eye, so did she in a different way.

That was the last time I saw her. Goodness knows how, but she soldiered on until Thursday 10.10p.m. when she passed peacefully, held by my Grandad and my Mum as her breaths got shallower until they stopped.

I found Zander’s birthday eve a little difficult at first. For some hours I couldn't think of much other than my Grandma and her shallow breaths, eventually though I realised she would have wanted me to be enjoying my preparations for my first born's birthday. She spent many years making the same preparations for her girls, reaffirming family traditions that were handed down to her from her mother, in so doing - handing it down to my mother as she has to us and now we do to our children.

As I baked the cake, cleaned and decorated the house, arranged the presents, prepared the breakfast I held this thought in my mind.... these are paths already well trodden by the matriarchs of our family – by my Grandmother, by my mother and now by me and my sister. I tread these paths and feel their energy, big wise matriarchal energy. Like ley lines.

The news came that she passed peacefully at ten past ten that night. I was glad we were all at home together the following day.

It was so beautiful, so peaceful my mother said. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by tears and pain that night, I choked an I’m so sorry as my Mama told me she'd lost hers, but after that I felt a ripple of peace and a shift in the universe.

I dropped the image of her tired body that had been consuming me that evening and I felt her everywhere, all around, in everything, in every particle and I swear I almost heard a sound like an ethereal boom in my mind and I saw her as she was before the Alzheimer’s took hold and I heard her voice say my name. I snuggled close to Cliff and let the moment and the peace wash over me.

I still feel her all round, I still feel the subtle shift in energies and feel her presence in everything, her imprint on the universe. And I am comforted by it, she is with our ancestors now and I am comforted in the knowledge I know an ancestor so well.

I’d like to thank her for her parting gift – the gift the experience gave me. Truly valuable, unquantifiably so considering my past hang ups about death. Although I am sad I shall never see her again I experienced how I think I'd like my final days to be – surrounded by and held by dear family, hearing the stories of our lives re-told and told for the first time to younger generations, the bubbling laughter of great grandchildren, familiar music, spiritual time, light, flowers, candles, love. I would like my final days to be like this and as older members of our family tread the same path I will do for them as I did for her.

Rest In Peace now Margaret Isabel Johnson
5th December 1925 – 12th May 2011.

Love x




Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Rites Of Passage

Life has been hectic. We thought we were on holiday but we now feel like we need another to get over it! Bank holiday after bank holiday, sunshine and fun!





We've made way for new furniture, at last the children's room looks cosy and inviting with a bunk bed - Zander's pride of place as he is on the top bunk being the eldest and the most skilled monkey in the troup!


And my little boy is turning four on friday. Four! where has the time gone? We made a countdown calendar for the final six days of waiting and I've started to scurry about making preparations for the big day. Zander has his cake request in (chocolate with white icing and cherries in a circle on the top!) and likewise with birthday tea. I'm trying to think of all the little family rituals I can start that will make things super special and leave memories that will have them bursting with anticipation for the next birthday and reminiscing fondly in years to come.


I am extremely excited for him yet I have drifted into a slightly more sombre place in the last forty eight hours after news on saturday night that my maternal grandmother is dying. She is in the latter stages of alzheimer's, her body is shutting down I think.


So I have a busy few days ahead. I have a birthday candle to decorate, a cake to make, presents to wrap, balloons and streamers to adorn the playroom with and a picnic party to bake for.


I am ashamed to say I've only seen her once in the last two years but I visited on sunday before it was too late. She didn't look much like my Grandma, her eyes were sunken, nothing holding them from behind. Her jaw hanging open as she drifted. She clearly woke for a few beautiful minutes which reminded me of watching a newborn wake - not very long at a time, gazing at those around them taking it all in. But her energy was unmistakably that of my Grandma.

I held her hand and I chatted a bit but felt no discomfort sitting in some silence too, just holding her hand letting her spirit know I was there. I had taken Gaia with me as she's too young to grasp what's happening and I hoped her bubbling chatter and giggles might be a tonic for old tired ears. I went to take my hand away so as to attend to Gaia but my Grandma tried to pull my fingers back - the slightest movement but unmistakeable - like when you try and release your finger from a babies grip. And I could not pull away. The love I felt flowing from her, even now in her most autumn of days, was so pure.

She's lived a very pure life. When I think of everything she's done, everything she's accomplished I cannot think of anything she's done that has not been for the good of others. The most remarkable woman, the strongest of women, the kindest of women, the boldest of women, the bravest of women, the most inspiring. She and my Grandad have inspired us for as long as I can remember - with their own interests - gardening, cooking, making clothes, nature, birds, camping, crafts and their qualities - respect, compassion, equanimity.


This is a very big moment for me. Since I was fifteen and first gave it thought, I have not been at peace with mortality, mine or anyone else's. Not even the spirituality and philosophy I've read into since nor the people I've met and spoken about it with, or the books I've read and pages I've written have not bought me peace with it.

I have been tested recently with Zander who has myriad questions about the subject. I know I must not pass down irksome feelings about old age and death but hearing him talking about it breaks my heart. Already, the repetition of answers to his young inquiring questions has started to heal my uneasiness. And already I feel this experience will help to iron out more. It is time to face my fears.

Today the time looked closer, yet another beautiful day spent with her today - with my brother, my sister, my Mum and my grandad. Thankful for my bosses understanding and need to go to her. We sat and listened to her life stories from my Grandad, of how they met her enormous role in the war and memories of our times together. It feels like we are truly walking this part together, holding hands, her hands, walking with her as far as we can go. It feels like this rite of passage is not only hers but we share it with her. I feel like I am doing what I should be - participating in the other end of life's rites - I've birthed my babies, the next generation and so i must help my grandma with her transition, her re-birth. I know she believes in God and Heaven and though I do not share her particular faith I know that energy cannot die and we must all leave our footprints in the sands of time, our imprint on the universe. So this energy must go somewhere, this energy I know as soul or spirit must live on.


It feels like time is slowing down, for all of us so that we can take the time to do as our ancestors would have done before us. And as she cared for her girls and us when we were young, so we now care for, comfort, reassure and attend her needs. Timeless in the same sense as those first days spent with a newborn where no one runs to schedule, normal activities can cease and make way for a more subtle gentle rhythm. We take off our work hats and direct our energy towards a vulnerable spirit.

I must not forget to mention my Grandad here and his immensely inspiring unconditional, unending, wholehearted love and devotion to her. He is staying with her in her care home and sits holding her hand each day, talking to her, playing music - favourite hymns and songs invoking past memories. He strokes her arm and he is brave, so brave. I cannot imagine what it is like to sit with your most beloved as they prepare for the journey. It must be agonising knowing the inevitability that is to come yet waiting as she refuses to give up just a little longer. She never gave up on anything.


I have so many words swirling round my head, bursting to get out. I think I could write for hours more but I am tired. There is a great deal to be celebrated here and I wanted to capture it as it happened, as I did when my babies were born and so I will at each landmark I come to in life. What a lady! 

And I must get into birthday gear too, I know she would have wanted that!

Peace X

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Rhythm

… is a funny old thing.  I can’t live without it, rhythm keeps me going giving me landmarks through the days, weeks and months, it feels familiar and comforting, yet too much of it and my spontaneous side starts to feel a bit antsy.

When we have luxurious long weekends such as these I start functioning better, more in sync with my family as I leave work as a distant memory - familiar family rhythms

                     ... baking pancakes on a sunday for breakfast ...

                                      .. baking bread of a wednesday morning ...
 
      ... Early sunday mornings in town picking veg up from the farmers market, eating croissant off the bread stall and playing in the park on the way home...

                    ... film night at the weekend just Cliff and I...

                                                            ... laying in till nine thirty on a saturday morning ..

                 ... Sunday Roast
                                                  ... tuesday night has officially become blog night - football is on so Cliff is out of mischief and I just got in from work so no cleaning to do!  I have a cup of tea at my side and a camera full of the weeks photo's to go through ...

                                                                                ... positively lovely.
                            
Of course there’s always room for adhoc adventures!  And summers lively rhythm makes way for longer warmer adventures. A welcome change where days and evenings roll into one.  On days when we are at home the children are often outside by eight in the morning helping me hang the washing up and starting the day as the mean to go on ... making mischief!  This time of year I can spend more time with them after work as we all opt for hanging out in the garden.

 

 In summer I catch a glimpse of non-time and for a beautiful moment forget that the night will creep in.

The bank holiday flow was interupted this weekend, a welcome interuption though.  I went to see ‘Chicago’ in the Westend with my Mum and siblings and was reminded of the rhythm and excitement of the theatre. I lived with this rhythm to one degree or another since I was five years old when I first took a ballet class.  I knew I wanted to be on stage straight away I felt something course through me.  When I was 17 won a scholarship to stage school  but it was watching big shows on big stages that filled me with enthusiasm and feelings of longing and ambition. It made me more determined, fulled my fire and filled me with excitement which nurtured my passion for it.
It took me back instantly and refreshed my spirit.  I drank it in smiling a cheeky smilke to myself. 
I watched with nostalgia as I recognised each number having learnt the choreography and lyrics over ten years ago now. My nostalgia was tinged with a little ‘I had my chance’ and a dash of ‘what if’ and a big slug of Shoulda coulda woulda.

But you know what, I'm actually happy sitting in the stalls, feeling pleased as punch for the girls and boys who achieved their dreams and one of mine
                                                                    whilst I live another totally different dream!

And I do consider motherhood, parenthood - the joint journey I'm walking with Cliff, as living the dream.  It's the dream Cliff and I dreamed a while ago now.  However challenging it can be its still our dream.

dreamy forest walks
 

dreamy girl                                                             
carved from the sustainable timber grown in the forest.


as is this grass hopper my boys pearched upon


'Mummy Angel' taken by Cliff





picnics with old friends...


love dappled sunlight on freckled cheeks
 

 

Bed beckons x