Amid the madness of a toddler and a pre-schooler there are moments, weeks and days, where life seems to glow. We’re in one of those right now: both boys happy, both sleeping, both playing happily with each other, and aside from the obsession with Peppa Pig, very easy going. (These are the moments when having another child seems like a good idea – dangerous, but being resisted in this house by the reminder that this is the first full nights of sleep we’ve had since 2005.)
This past three months has been a huge transition period for us and I feel its just now that i’m settling in to the routine. All the tears about losing my identity are fading and instead I’m getting into the habit of slower starts, lego in the sunshine, and less stress all round. One of the myths of staying at home is that since you’re busy with the kids, you don’t actually have more spare time. But because I have five free mornings and late afternoons with the boys, there’s lots of time to accomplish errands and still collect pine cones and turn them into Christmas wreaths…
On that note, we’re debating painting our front door and trim royal blue…
I’m rereading Adam Nicolson’s Sea Room (a fabulous book that somehow has 74 used copies available at the moment starting from 1p at Amazon.co.uk) and am absorbed again in the world of the Shiants. It is easy to slide into longing to be there, ignorning the references to rats, the inevitable sea sickness on the way there, and the fact that we are not really a coastal family. Our natural habitat is definitely inland, travelling on foot or perhaps by canoe on gentle quiet waters. To me it is a measure of the beauty of Nicolson’s book that it seduces me every time, his love for it rubbing off on the reader. (Photos from nearby Skye, our 2009 much less adventurous but still lovely holiday).
I’m rereading it now in response to another book, Susan Hill’s Howards End is on the Landing, a collection of essays built on a year of reading nothing but the books she owns at home. She finishes with a list of 40 favourite books, and after savouring her essays over the past few weeks, I thought I might read from her list. But her choice of Lockhart’s Halfway to Heaven left me unmoved and uninspired, the opposite response to her description of a book “full of a truth which was been learned, known, experienced, and of God met face to face”. Interesting yes, but for me from an intellectual point rather than an emotional one. Reading is of course personal, and her dislike of Austen was perhaps a warning (love, that wonderful gift in our lives, doesn’t seem to appeal to Hill). But my response to Lockhart was to return to Nicolson’s Sea Room. Although not in any sense a religious book, it still is full of a calm spirituality that I find slows me down and inspires reflection. Surprisingly perhaps, it would have to be in my list of 40 books.
I know I shouldn’t post this, when he’s 15 he’ll be horrified and perhaps it is crossing that fine line between sharing stories and sharing too much. But Fraser’s in love, madly & deeply with the four year old across the street. First thing in the morning Fraser stands at the window and looks across to her front room and calls her name. When she finally appears and waves, he giggles with excitement. If he actually gets to play with her, he lets her cart him around the house, carrying him underneath his arms in a way that would involve shrieks of outrage from anyone else. It must be true love.
This month has been another wonderful one, with new words and a growing love of books. Fraser’s still not keen on lasting through an entire story, but we’re getting there and he loves searching for familiar figures in the pages of his books or lifting flaps to find what’s behind. Fraser also loves colouring on the floor, stealing all the biscuits at church, and playing outside. He’s still not so keen on swimming though, I think there’s just not enough body fat to keep him warm.
Homemade costumes are magic and our two boys looked fantastic in Michelle’s creations. Last year’s lion was revisited, while 2007’s frog prince was recycled for boy number two. Fraser was probably the only roaring rather than ribbiting frog this year – he wasn’t going to be left out of the scary fun. We had a very wonderful hallowe’en, with the boys out guising at the neighbours+ and Duncan doing an excellent job with his joke (“why are ghosties always sad? because they say boo hoo”).
While I didn’t make the boys costumes myself (and couldn’t create anything approaching these!), I’m loving homemade pretty things these days and I have started a new simple quilt in reaction to the sheer amount of maleness I’m surrounded by these days. Cory took one look at it and said “it’s nice, but don’t we already have a quilt for the living room? But see this one? It’s got flowers. Lots and lots of them. And the old quilt, which amazingly is exactly six years old, is starting to show it’s age with thining fabric from too many monkeys jumping on the
People are starting to ask how I’m adjusting to staying at home and while the first month was swallowed up by Fraser’s operation and the resulting stress, in the past week or so I’m starting to relax and enjoy the time we all have together. I’ve got to get my head around to seeing this as an opportunity. An opportunity to quilt (I’d never have found this few hours when I was working), an opportunity to take care of myself (I’ve joined a pilates class), and an opportunity to slow down. When I was working, it wasn’t just Duncan that was unhappy. We were pulled so tight that the slightest addition, like Cory being offshore last weekend, would throw us completely off balance. Lately life is starting too smooth out, and that’s so much more human. It is true that you can’t have everything, but maybe time to create something goes a long way to counteract the fear involved in losing my career.
+”Although traditions of seasonal guising stretch back at least as far as the Middle Ages, they became an exclusively Halloween practice only in the twentieth century. However there is a significant difference from the way the practice has developed in the United States. In Scotland, the children are only supposed to receive treats if they perform for the households they go to. This normally takes the form of singing a song or reciting a joke or a funny poem which the child has memorized before setting out.”; see wikipedia