Slow Living :: May 2015

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With a newborn baby, May has seemed rather a blur. However, you generally don’t get much done at any speed in the first few months and it has been another lesson in patience, because even getting something as simple as the washing up done isn’t a given.  I started off using a stretchy sling, but problems with my neck and back have meant that towards the end of the month I’ve had to put sling usage on hold, which has affected the amount of household tasks I could do (because he’s not a fan of lying down without being directly on or next to someone).  So I’m struggling with some frustration at not being able to get things done that I feel I should.

The children have been variously helping to prepare food and Moo has, of course, been baking.  Amongst various other cakes, she made two different lemon drizzle cakes: one in a bundt pan, decorated with violas and calendula petals; another in a loaf tin, decorated with lavender flowers.

The loaves of bread may look rather simple and uninspiring to you, but these are the first two loaves that I was organised enough to make after Arty has been born.  I was very pleased to finally have got back to making bread again (and I’ve kept it up since – so a little bit of normality regained).

Plenty to sow this month and plenty growing.  The first of the tomatoes (Latah) are fruiting and our sweet peppers (approaching two years old) continue to fruit.  Currants are also fruiting and the strawberries flowering.  There’s a huge amount to do in the garden and I’m trying to rise above feeling frustrated that there is very little I can get done with Arty.  Thankfully plants will continue to grow (if a little haphazardly) even with a small amount of care and some things, salad for example, are already being picked and eaten.

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Slow Living :: March & April 2015

violets-300x300Living in the moment may well be good advice, but as I mentioned in my Slow Living February post, I find doing so in February particular hard. Much as Imbolc (Candlemas) brings the promise of greenery and warmth to come, I long for the coming of Ostara and the Spring Equinox and the year seems to shudder and lurch towards this turning point.  Being heavily pregnant exacerbated this and, as I got larger and required crutches to get around, I became increasingly frustrated because I was lacking for fresh air and countryside (Minnie and the poor dog were similarly frustrated, relying, as they do, on me to give them a good daily airing!)  Pregnancy may well make one slow down, but not necessarily in the way one might like.

Craft

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With a baby due and being unable to walk far, it’s unsurprising that I did a bit of knitting, but it has only been some, because I struggled to be enthused (I blame the heaviness and anaemia that mean I feel perpetually exhausted). I’ve been sporadically knitting up a cardigan for Stinkers and have repeatedly cast on and frogged a lace scarf for myself because it just hasn’t been quite right, even though the yarn for the scarf is gorgeous hand-dyed stuff from the Natural Dye Studio.

In preparation for labour I made up some essential oil blends for a massage oil, a facial spritz and a post labour bath.  As it happened, I didn’t end up using them in labour, as I had a caesarian instead, but the mixes can still be used in the bath and refreshing facial spritzes are always useful!

Grow

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I’ve posted a separate entry regarding what we’ve been up to in and around the garden during March and April:  March & April Gardening.  It’s not been a huge amount, certainly not as much as I would’ve wanted to do, but have had to be realistic this year.  There’s been plenty of help – gardening is a team effort here – but without my ‘organised head’ on, I’ve forgotten to remind people to do the watering I haven’t been able to manage, or the various little jobs that you notice need doing when pottering around the garden (because pottering isn’t something I’ve been able to do much of).

There’s also been the ongoing frustration of the garden itself being sorted ready for new plants.  Having moved here last year and the first few months being taken up with care of the (many) pots we’d brought with us, lapsing into morning sickness (which doesn’t exactly inspire one to get into the garden) and then moving into issues with mobility due to getting bigger and heavier, it’s been difficult to get much physical work done.  J is wonderful, but works long hours and the weather really hasn’t been conducive to getting the bulk of ‘groundwork’ (digging up turf, mending runs and building fencing) that has needed doing.

It’s been quite some lesson in patience for me.  I haven’t always borne it with grace…

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A bit of fun exploring colour with the little Minnie.  Moo already understands what happens when various colours of mixed, but it was an exciting activity for a 2 year old!

Celebrate (and Bake!)

March and April are busy months for celebration in our household, with J’s birthday at the beginning of March, followed by Ostara (Spring Equinox), my father’s birthday shortly afterwards and then various birthdays of friends and family in and around and through these months (including my own in April).  Once March starts to get closer to the Equinox, I find my mood begins to cheer and there’s a palpable shift in energy (although it clashed rather with physical ability this year!)

Moo has been busy making various cakes that have mostly featured chocolate (far more cakes than those pictured below!)

I had the pleasure of attending a friend’s Blessingway (she’s due some six weeks after me) and had a lovely day of celebrating her pregnancy and the impending arrival of her baby (a few of my friends are either expecting babies, or have already given birth).

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By far the biggest event of the past couple of months for me, however, was the birth of my youngest son, Arty.

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Arthur Samuel

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Born by caesarian section on 27th April 2015, weighing 10lb 11oz and 58cm long – no wonder I was finding things rather hard going towards the end!

Having a caesarian section has been a very different experience from the births of my other children.   I had suffered a lot of anxiety throughout this pregnancy (due to a few issues with Minnie’s birth, plus the fact that I had had some health issues making it not particularly advisable to be pregnant again); plus I had had a number of issues and disagreements with the consultant (including seeing a second consultant);I barely saw the community midwife and anyone who knows me, knows I’m not a fan of hospitals and much prefer to ‘meddled with’ as little as possible, so this was a very different pregnancy – and it had taken a lot to build my confidence back up in preparation for labour (and there were still various concerns about the toll on my body), so a caesarian was a further curve ball.

It involved a lot of needles, both before and afterwards (I need to take 6 weeks of anti-coagulent self-administered jabs – very much not fun and not something I was aware was a likelihood before caesarian) and it hit me a lot harder afterwards (usually I’m up and about reasonably quickly and have left hospital within hours).

Thankfully I was able to be concious throughout the operation and J was able to sit with me (a screen was erected across my chest).  It’s a very unusual feeling being able to feel someone ‘rummaging around’ your insides without any pain.  I felt sad that I didn’t get to see Arthur ‘born’ and I had to wait a little while before I could hold him (due to there being the screen over my chest). I’m used to things being done very differently (baby being handed directly to me and straight onto my chest for skin-to-skin, so this was hard.  He was also very quiet – no crying out – although very alert.  Once he’d been checked over (clearly more of an issue after caesarian) J was able to hold him next to me, but it was still hard for me to see him properly and I couldn’t reach to touch him.  It was only when I went into post-op that I was finally able to hold him (which was a massive relief).

The team were really lovely and the anaesthetist was chatty and we talked about about home education whilst I was being stitched up (she asked interested, intelligent questions, rather than making some of the more common assumptions regarding home ed).    The surgeon also popped in to see how I was doing on the ward the next morning (which was nice).

Whilst I felt pretty ok directly after the operation (the returning sensation of the ability to move my lower body was very welcome) and the next morning (midwives commented on how well I was doing moving about, etc), later on I had a bit of a crash where my already low blood pressure plummeted and I ended up having an ECG and a CT scan (and again I clashed with the consultant over breastfeeding the next morning) and was struggling to stay concious, let alone pick Arthur up.  J had to return to the hospital in the evening to help care for Arthur, because I barely had the strength to turn my head.   J had to go home in the early hours (to relieve his parents who were looking after the other children and needed to get some sleep before work) and the midwives had to take over looking after Arthur.   This was pretty crushing for me.  Usually I’d’ve been home within hours of giving birth and in peace and comfort.  I’ve never had to hand over one of my newborns because I couldn’t cope.  But I couldn’t stay awake, let alone move, so there wasn’t much choice.  The midwives were really wonderful and I’m very thankful for all of their help.  Not an experience I’d want to repeat, though, and I feel very blessed that it was so very temporary – I really feel for parents who have a long separation from their children and such a vulnerable time!

Thankfully the various tests were clear (although I remain very anaemic in both iron and B12 and that’s quite hard-going, not least because there are issues with taking vitamin C supplements that would help iron absorption whilst taking the anti-coagulents) and after a couple more days rest I was able to come home and have a desperately needed bath (which felt amazing) and eat ‘proper’ food – hospital food is terrible!  Also few things better than your own bed and not having to have your child sleep in a separate bassinet!

Arthur shall henceforth be known as ‘Arty’ on the blog.

Slow Living :: February 2015

February can be a hard month – it’s often the last slog of bitter cold here and the year sometimes seems at its darkest (regardless of it turning at Winter Solstice) and regardless of Imbolc (Candlemas) being at the beginning of the month.  Yes I get very excited to see the first snowdrops, but still there’s the rest of the month to get through and I find it hard.

To celebrate Imbolc/St Brigid’s Day, the plan had been to make bread in a St Brigid’s cross. It didn’t quite work out, so Moo went for a braided fruit bread instead.  It tasted good and, I suppose, that’s what really matters!

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As the weather brightened, thoughts have turned outside to the garden where we have rather a lot of work to do.  We moved here last summer and any gardening was taken up with caring for the very many pots we brought with us (an overview of what happened gardening-wise last year is here: Garden 2014).

John has been busy clearing some space for broad beans and a few of our currants.  We eventually plan to plant some fruit trees where the broad beans are going this year, but just can’t manage the cost of what we want in time to planted already, so have to wait until the autumn.

The eventual plan for the currants and some of the raspberries is that they will live in the front ‘garden’ (as apparently they will tolerate some shade).  But the front garden is currently completely paved, so that’s on hold for the time being until we get other work done in the back garden.  We need to build a low fence to prevent the dog from accessing the main garden (so she doesn’t careen all over the beds) and so are dividing the garden with a paved area nearest the house (as there isn’t any sort of seating area currently) and building a low fence as part of a pergola over the planned patio up which we will be planting grapes (south-facing).

Our potatoes from the Grow Your Own Potatoes project (from the Potato Council) are chitting on the windowsill and the following have been sown:

  • Broad beans – Aquadolce Longpod
  • Tomatoes – Latah
  • Dahlias – unknown variety
  • Sweet peas – mixed

The latter two are courtesy of Moo who is trying to raise dahlias from seed this year.  These come from my visit to East Ruston Old Vicarage Gardens and were a gift from one of the owners who is trying to breed black dahlias (he’s a massive dahlia enthusiast and was very pleased to hear that Nin is interested in dahlias too, so very kindly gave me some seeds for her).

We’re going to have to take it a little easy on the gardening front this year with a baby on the way and a little less space, but are planning to at least grow a reasonable amount of tomatoes, herbs and salad.

We ordered a few more seeds to add to what we have saved from last year.  We’re going to give cucamelons a go and we needed some more tomatoes as, although we had a few left from last year, tomatoes are something that we use a lot of and have really appreciated having dried to continue to use into the winter.  Now to get some more sown and hope that I’m not too exhausted to keep on top of them in the months to come!