Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Life with two wee people...

Generally speaking, life with two small people in the house has proved to be less of a disaster than I anticipated. Before Tick was born I had nightmares about sibling rivalry, escalating toddler behaviour, extreme sleep deprivation and general insanity. The reality is thankfully not quite like that. For starters, The Bean adores his little brother. Sure, he is also occasionally jealous and yes, there has been quite a bit of wanting to be carried around or sitting on Mama's lap while Tick is nursing... we work around that. Also, sleep deprivation, while never a joy, isn't quite so awful this time round. I think it's a mixture of knowing what to expect and the fact that Tick isn't as much of a snacker as Bean was, meaning I occasionally get longer stretches between feeds. Again, there are occasional tough nights, like two days ago for example, when teething pain coincided with a growth's spurt, but most of the time, as long as I go to bed at a reasonable hour, it's OK. And life in general might be more chaotic, but then, we are used to chaotic around here, and Tick fits in rather well with us. He is a contented and relaxed baby, and quite self-reliant and independent, happy to lie on his blanket and watch his big brother play. He is an additional happy little bundle on shopping trips and an interested observer of toddler play during play group sessions. I can honestly say that the introduction of the second little person has been a resounding success, not only with us but also with the proud big brother.

Nonetheless, there are also occasions when things are a bit more rocky. Occasions where you find yourself with two crying little ones and you are just about hanging on to sanity while really you would like to do a bit of howling yourself because you feel so desperate and helpless and tired. Like tonight for example.

Bathtime - normally a fun time in this household. D usually takes over then and both The Bean and D enjoy their special time together. While they are playing I get to straighten things up a bit, get Bean's bed ready, prepare his milk, and spend time with Tick. This spending time with Tick is particularly important at this time of night because this is when he becomes more grizzly and fretful. After a hard day's watching everything around him he is tired and overstimulated and he doesn't quite manage to make himself sleep so he is prone to quite a bit of fussing.Normally this isn't a problem because there are two of us and I can settle him.

Not so, however, tonight. D had to work late, leaving me with the task of getting The Bean bathed and into bed. It started off well, with Bean having a good spash in the tub and Tick, minus his nappy (he has had a weird rash for a few days and I suspect it's the disposables so I am trying a mix of cloth nappies and lots of nappy-free time to cure it), kicking on the changing mat on the floor.

Then he started fretting. I tried to calm him while at the same time keeping an eye on Bean in the bath. With little success. The fretting turns into crying. Now Bean is starting to get upset and urges me to pick Tick up because, so Bean, "Tick hungry!! Tick booby!". Well, I try that, in the vain hope that it will calm him. No luck. Of course I know what he needs - some calm time with Mama in a quiet and dark room to settle himself - but right now, with a toddler in the bath I can't really provide that. I put Tick back down to get Bean out of the bath and hurry things along a bit. By this point Tick is howling and Bean is visibly upset (he hates to see his brother cry). I convince him to come out of the bath and help me get Tick ready for bed. This means that Bean's bedtime is shifting rather more than I would like (he is still a difficult sleeper so I don't like to upset his routine because we tend to suffer for it), but it can't be helped. I stuff Bean into his PJs and we go into Mama's bedroom to get Tick ready. Bean is now quite frantic with worry about his brother and wants to lie down with him in Mama's bed. We do that for a bit because I want to try to nurse Tick again in the hope to settle him. It doesn't work, but now I also have to get Bean out of my bed, where he is contentedly settling down for the night, and into his own. All the while Tick is howling.

Eventually I manage to get Tick into his PJs and sleeping bag and into his own cot and Bean out of my bed and into his own. He is not happy that he isn't sleeping in Mama's bed but eventually cooperates. He is a trooper, really - while, like all wilful toddlers, he has his moments and his tantrums, in situations where I get really desperate I can usually reason with him. He seems to sense that I need him to cooperate and he can be ever so sweet. I am deeply grateful for that.

While I settled Bean in his bed and then when I went back into the bathroom to tidy up the chaos I finally heard Tick settle down. I tiptoed in again to check up on him and to switch the monitor on and then glanced at the clock - the whole episode had taken little more than 20 minutes from Tick starting to fret to both children in bed and asleep, yet it had felt like hours.

I came downstairs, and sat down on the sofa with a hot drink and a couple of slices of banana bread and took the luxury of closing my eyes for a moment to relax.

I think I have earned it.

~ * ~

Just so that this post at least includes some knitting too, I thought I'd give you a quick update on Unwrapped. It was going well until yesterday lunchtime. I have managed to do quite a bit of knitting - mainly in the evenings and, and this has been particularly effective, in the car, when Bean has his nap (recently he has refused to nap anywhere else so I do a lot of sitting in the car...) - and Unwrapped has been growing nicely.

Now, however, progress has stalled. The reason? A broken circular needle. See, this is what happens if one is a cheapskate and buys a whole bunch of bamboo needles on eBay for something like 50 pence per pair... They arrive and one looks suspiciously at the rather stiff plastic tubing used to link the two needles. With good reason, as it turns out, because these needles don't even seem to be able to withstand the wear and tear of ONE knitting project. The bending proved too much for the tubing and it broke. I have already put in an order for a new pair of circs although in the meantime D managed to simply cut off the broken bit of plastic tubing and to stick the remainder back onto the needle, showing a) how simply these needles were made in the first place, and b) that he is the more technical minded person in this household. The needles are still not usable, though, because we didn't have any super-glue to secure the tubing. Also, who knows how long they would last before the next breakage?

Anyway, here is a picture to show that progress is being made - I'm doing the hip increases now, so I'm nearing the end of this project already!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

February gloom...

... and what to do with it.

Recently Soule Mama posted a series of inspiring blog entries about how to deal with the February funk - her Winter Manifesto.

I loved reading the posts and it made me think about how I deal with this gloomiest of all the winter months. See, I'm not a winter person, and while I'm not averse to a bit of the fluffy white stuff, what I really hate is the dreary wetness of the UK winter. Somehow it's always worst in February, maybe because the holiday season is over, or because it's been winter for so long already and you find yourself longing for a bit of fresh growth, or maybe even because spring seems just round the corner - the days are getting longer, there is the odd balmy day that makes you think of spring... yet much as this month teases with it's close proximity to spring, there is still a lot of cold and wet to come and somehow that makes it even worse.

At the weekend we found ourselves with an unexpected half-day of free time and no particular idea of what to do, so D suggested going out into the garden. While I was initially reluctant ("but it's cold and wet out there..." *whine*) I let myself be persuaded and it turns out that you can have fun outside - even on a grey day in mid-February.

The Tick was asleep for most of this, but The Bean was excited to visit his friends the worms (fast asleep under a couple of logs in the garden) and then happily proceded to water our already completely waterlogged garden. I'm sure the weeds won't mind...

And lo and behold, amidst the dull greys and browns of the season I managed to spot some new green shoots - bluebells!

I know that spring is still a long way off, but it's good on the eyes to see a bit of colour at this time of year.

In knitting news - Unwrapped is coming along nicely - pictures to follow. I just hope it will fit... I'm still weary of the wonky gauge!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Destashing swap...

Shortly after Tick was born I took part in a swap on Ravelry. I hadn't done any swaps for a while and the concept appealed to me - it was a swap with the purpose of only using things you had anyway and to spend as little as possible (as a kind of counterbalance to the crazy spending that xmas usually gives rise to). At the same time the parcel was of course supposed to be filled with nice things - the idea being that you shouldn't give something to someone else that you wouldn't also be happy to receive yourself.

My swap partner was in Australia so we arranged to send our parcels surface mail and to accept that we would have to wait rather longer for them to arrive (the alternative was to spend far more on postage than on what was in the parcels). I dived deeply into my stash, filled a box with yarn, fabric, some knitting needles, a pattern and some sweets. Surprisingly my parcel arrived very quickly, making me think how crazy it is that I can send something to Australia using surface mail and it arrives within 3 weeks and send something to Germany using normal mail and it also arrives in 3 weeks. What's that about?!

Anyway, the parcel from Australia took rather longer. It arrived a few days ago and boy was it worth the wait!! This is what my partner sent:

Isn't that fabulous? I love the bold colours on the big skein of yarn - it's hand-dyed! There was pretty knitting, books, a sock pattern, a cute little book for The Bean, sweets, ... I can't list it all, there were so many things. Thank you so much sthrnx, you made my day!! :-)

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

We had snow on Monday - real, actual snow that lay on the ground in a poudery pristine white layer at least 4 inches deep. Anyone the least familiar with the UK climate will realise how unusual this is. Of course everything immediately broke down and the whole country round to a halt, but me? I was happy. Far happier than I normally am at the berginning of that dreary month of February, whrn the cold and damp has had ample time to creep into the bones, there are no more distractions in the shape of holidays, and spring is still a long way off. And Bean loved, loved, LOVED the snow. Despite the cold I could hardly get him into the house and even when it was time for bed he was asking to go outside to check on the snowmen we had built earlier.

There is something so magical in seeing a child enjoy the snow - for the first time, even, because although he has seen snow before there's never been enough of it do DO anything other than try to stay out of the slush that the cars had made. It's supposed to snow again on Friday and I so hope it does because Bean has not stopped talking about the snowmen and was quite upset to see that they'd melted when the weather turned, not 24 hours after that miraculous snow, to return to the usual UK fare this time of year - rain and temperatures just above freezing.

In other areas too, miraculous things have happend. I have cast on for a sweater. It's Unknit from Knotions and I'm using some Rowan DK Tweed that I bought on ebay a while back. My gauge, despite knitting 3 (!) swatches with different needle sizes, is off, and I've given up hope that this yarn, with any needle size I might try, would give me the gauge that is needed for this project. So I am winging it. I'm knitting the smallest size, which is actually winging it doubly because a) the width is the part of the gauge that is totally off (by about 2 cm) and b) right now my boobs are not really their usual (humble) size because I am feeding Tick. I am hoping that by knitting it in the 28 inch size I will end up with a garment that will fit me once I am not nursing Tick anymore. We'll see how that will work out...

For now I'm leaving you with another picture of Bean in Winter Wonder Land. :-)