Saturday, 28 January 2012

Instead of stories ...

Sometimes, of an evening, Frank and I discuss what stories he might like to hear.
I love reading and being read to. Thus talking books are great for me, especially as I can cook and potter whilst following a story.
I have very fond memories of being in my mid-twenties and sharing a house with two other young female teachers, one of whom is still one of my best friends, Alex.
Alex is from Ballymoney in Northern Ireland and after a few years teaching here in Essex, followed her heart home and works now in Belfast.
On special occasions Alex would read out loud to me as we both lay on sofas in the lounge of the house we shared. He gorgeous northern Irish accent made every story extra special to me.
Well, Frank loves stories too, but is in that in-betweeeny phase at the moment of not really enjoying longer stories and wanting the same very young children's stories over and over.
I have no problem with this unless it has been a long day and I am in need of something a little more peppy!
This was the case the other evening and so I suggested we took paper, books and pencils and his bedtime snack upstairs with us and planned our Chinese New Year celebrations on the big double bed INSTEAD of stories.

We had a couple of books for ideas of dragons to draw and Frank erected a pillow barrier to prevent me from seeing the dragon he was drawing.

Here you can see his snack (apples slices and an oat biscuit) and in the background his little monster design book. This is just a small Moleskine book that he has by the side of his bed and in which he draws any good ideas for monsters when he's allowed ten minutes reading or designing alone before lights go out.
Monsters don't frighten him and he loves to design weird and wonderful ones.

We came up with this version of a dragon for our Chinese New Year celebration and Frank had a ball using his new chalk pastels to colour it in as they were so bright.
My point with this post is that we spent a long time drawing and reading and talking about our ideas and I think both of us felt energised by this new activity.
I firmly believe in routine and the support it provides for all of us but on the occasion that I have stepped outside the routine and done something creative I have felt amazed by the energy I have tapped into.
Rather than feeling more tired by our slightly later night we felt great and had shared some creative time and most definitely strengthened our connection to each other as two people that like to create, albeit he monsters and gross creatures and me slightly less gross things!
Instead of stories, create ...
Any other ideas for great bedtimes?

Monday, 16 January 2012

Don't Look Back

Well, despite plans for an upbeat post about my personal goals for 2012 I found myself faced with the squat presence of The Diabetes Toad today.
I was cleaning out the fridge with Frank, who loves the emptying out bit but then disappears for the cleaning!
I took a moment to remove the photos adorning the fridge door and found The Toad, waiting for me as I took in the pictures of my boy on this piece of furniture in my home.
A piece that I go to every day, multiple times.
And my breath was knocked out of me.
As I thought, "He didn't have Diabetes then..... or then ... oh, that's the holiday in Cornwall, he didn't have Diabetes there either ... or when he was eating that apple there in that cute picture ... oh ... oh, hello Diabetes Toad, you're back for a bit are you?"
And so it goes.
I well up and feel like crap and hate this disease that takes over our lives as well as too much shelf space in our fridge and home.
And yet ... and yet ...
He lives.
We live.
It is hard, but looking back in this way only encourages the Diabetes Toad and he's too big for his boots anyway.
Let's cut him down a peg or two.
So don't look back.
Except in love and acceptance.

The Diabetes Toad lurks for all of us, I know he does, but these days I can give him a nod and clean out the fridge and get on with my day.
An example of this for this very minute:
the full-on life force of Frank has just manifested itself by running into the room with his winter hat on backwards, arms stretched out sideways and saying "Ninja!" (we have a bit of a Scooby Doo & the Black Samurai fetish going on, especially in the build up the Chinese New Year too!) At this display the Diabetes Toad disappears in a puff of smoke and life is good.
Life is sweet.

I end with a gratuitously cute picture of my boy, four years ago, in the bath, the spitting image of me at that age.
He didn't have Diabetes then either but that's OK.
Blessings and Toad-free days to all!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Off the needles - tea leaves!

And about flipping time, I hear you all cry (yes, you especially Lise!!).
It is done.
It is washed.
It is blocked.
It is dry (although I regret doing the final drying hour on the radiator as it has lines on it now, but people came by for galette des rois (epiphany cake) and it had to go somewhere and not stay in the middle of the floor in front of the wood stove - sigh).
It is enormous.
Andrew is fitting a new ceiling to the garage today and I ran outside, just after breakfast and asked him to take a few pictures of the cardi and his wife (that's me!) modelling it.
I am not wearing make up, I haven't even brushed my hair, I got to bed past midnight and I am wearing my second favourite dress.
This dress is very comfy but does make me look six months "with child".
I would love to tell you all that the above is unusual for me.
But alas ...
So, on that warning note here it is: Tea Leaves, the baby that took only six months in the making.

And now I am cast adrift, not sure what to knit next.
I am thinking mittens.
Quick and simple and we must surely be due some cold weather soon?
I am sitting here in short sleeves, no socks and the heating isn't even on.
It is MILD.
Better get outside and enjoy it with Frank.
Love to all. Have a good Monday.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Mellow Sweetness

I have really been enjoying mellow days with my boys over the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Some days have been filled with such gentle sweetness that I have felt a surge of joy at my luck to have these two men in my life.
After our Solstice celebration it was heads down and into Christmas.
We went to a lovely party hosted by a friend on Christmas Eve and I was able to catch up with my friend Tanya and her hubby Rob. He was sporting the biggest smile ever having finally landed a job after eighteen very long and tricky months and many, many interviews. I just didn't want to talk to anyone else having seen them go through such a hard time and just loved feeling the energy pulsing out of them that evening. They are good people and like many in this economic climate have been through a lot.
Christmas Day saw us eating croissants as we opened our gifts and then heading off to celebrate Christmas with Sue (Andrew's ex-wife), Sarah and Tom (his children from this first marriage, they are 29 and 25 respectively).
Sue made a fantastic lunch of turkey, roast potatoes, sausages, veggies, bread sauce, cranberry sauce and gravy.
Frank was in his element!
At around 4pm we all tucked into the mince pies I made along with a cup of tea.

I used a pastry recipe from Sarah Raven's Complete Christmas book (which I love!! Highly recommended) and filled the pies with sugar free mincemeat made by my friend Fiona.
The little bird lids on the lids were a last minute decision as a full lid can be heavy and I love a bit of whimsy at any time.
Boxing Day saw us three in the woods getting some much needed fresh air and gathering some sticks for the fire.
And for New Year we drove down to Reading to stay with Severine and had such a lovely time, full of mellow sweetness again.
Severine knows us well and was happy to have a quiet, reflective evening with good food and some games and chat about our plans for the coming year.
We played a music quiz, drank champagne, ate smoked salmon and made a list of what we want to achieve in 2012.
Actually, Andrew let Sev and I drink the champagne as he toasted the new year with (hold onto your knickers) CHOCOLATE MILK!!!!

I have no idea what Sev actually thought but I could hazard a guess!

And my plans for 2012?
They include posting here more often.
So on that note, I will be back soon with more on my plans for 2012.
Blessings to you all for a healthy, happy and joyful 2012 full of mellow sweetness.