March 31, 2011

Max's first

Max Henry's first birthday.  A whole year since his arrival, the day on which my life changed again, and for the better.  The day on which I discovered that giving birth could be that magical experience, as he came into the world with such ease (and a little help).  The day on which my Oliver became a big brother and couldn't possibly have predicted how that would make him feel and be - and I still can't.  The day on which smiles, squeaks and squeals of delight in my days became more frequent than I could have imagined.  The day on which our indecision became all the more apparent as we tried and failed to agree on the name that would be right for him.  The day on which my life got way harder, the challenges became way tougher, the rewards became unbelievably joyous.  The day on which I held him in my arms for the first time, a little, loving, cuddly being that I had grown in my belly for nine incredible months. The day on which I contemplated that my family might now be complete.

It changes your life, it does.  You can't imagine how until it happens.  This last year of joy, tears, exhaustion, endless chores, stories, art, haircuts, crawling, new words, sentences, bossiness, confidence, interaction, sleep deprivation, breastfeeding... it is with a sweet melancholy that I reflect on the passing of this incredible time of raising babies as they grow into little people.  One day they will be grown up and might be parents themselves and maybe then, just maybe they will begin to understand the heartache and pride I feel when they reach out for me, their mama who will always be there for them.

Happy birthday, darling Max.

March 25, 2011

a faint glimmer

Amongst the nursing, cuddling, cleaning up, futile feeding, comforting, working and day to day grind, there is a glimmer of hope that I might have Max's quilt top complete before his birthday next week.  It's only a faint glimmer and at times it's not even that - a week of looking after two sick little boys has put us behind on a number of things, but it's been completely necessary and a bit of a reality check.  It's so easy to take for granted the days that don't involve cleaning up puke and washing bedding within hours of it going onto a cot mattress, the days when I normally complain about the laundry (hah!) and the housework and the exhaustion of it all, they really are easy days in comparison to the way things have been this week.  But, I've said it before and I'll say it here again, in this time of floods, earthquakes, tsunamis and turmoil, even with a pile of puke, there's plenty to be thankful for.

March 22, 2011

our little patient

Yesterday at about 2.30pm, I was at my desk, wondering how I was going to churn through my list of tasks when my mobile phone rang and it was Sue.  Ollie had been sick on waking from his afternoon nap and then again a few moments later.  I jumped in a cab, got to Sue's to find my dear little boy upset and confused with what was going on.  He was uncharacteristically clingy, asking for water and then being sick almost instantly, 'oh whoops, oh whoops, oh dear' he sobbed through his tears.  In a chaos of puke, tears, poopy nappies (Max sure does choose his moments), I got the boys home, into the shower, into dry, clean clothes and we snuggled up on the couch in front of The Gruffalo while Will made an appointment at the doctor on his way home to help with a very sad little boy.

After a reasonable night, not without its challenges, Ollie managed to eat a pretty good breakfast (at his own request) and both boys are now resting, Ollie in our bed, Max in his cot.  Ollie's never had to deal with this kind of illness before, and he's coping remarkably well, even though being sick makes him sob and he's exhausted from lack of food and sleep.  It is breaking my heart to see him so confused about what is happening to him and it feels as though we are sitting on a time bomb, waiting for it to hit Max and then us.  In the mean time, all we can do is make him as comfortable as possible and let him know that everything will be ok.  

Every parent deals with this, and some deal with a lot worse, but it's still hard.  I guess at the end of it all, we are lucky that we are in a place with doctors, medicine, a comfortable home and the flexibility and support of our colleagues to be with our children when we need to be.  We need to give it time, but I can't wait for the little guy to be back to his reassuringly bossy and impatient self again. 

March 19, 2011

birthday bus

My last post was about the boys and their love of books and the wonderful tour guides by Miroslav Sasek, in particular, This is London.  It's relevant here because it was the inspiration for our latest creative offering, the invitation to Max's first birthday party.  First birthday!  The birthday bus was, in the style that is on the verge of becoming tradition (remember this one?), conceived by me, Miroslav Sasek and the interweb, but executed by that great, patient and hard working man in my life, Will, who without objection lets me boss him about to create the image I have in my mind, even though I really should just learn how to use Illustrator and do it myself.  Ah well, at least this way it's a truly collaborative effort.

We deliberated over whether to email these invitations or send them out the old fashioned way and it's still something that I am in two minds over.  It's greener and easier to go the email option, but it's so sweet to receive an actual little invitation, in an envelope that's been stamped and has travelled with the postman all the way to your door.  Isn't it?  Or am I deluded that anyone even realises the love and work that goes into these hand made mementos before they mark the date on their calendars and chuck them in the (recycling) bin?

I should say that printing these invites was a big hassle.  When Max was on his way, we turned our spare room/study into his nursery, and all the bits of our study ended up finding impractical homes all over the rest of the house.  Paperwork, craft supplies, sewing stuff, the printer... and then something about my macbook pro doesn't like our printer which is, for all intents and purposes a fine printer, but ended up frustrating even Will, the most patient of people.  Anyway, I finally got it working to then feed the paper into the printer the wrong way round, causing the print to bleed, but not wanting to waste the rather expensive but awesome paper, I reused it right side up and covered the printed back of each invitation with some red and white stripey paper I had left over from Christmas, perfect.  It's a good job they turned out the way they did because I was this close to emailing a .jpeg out instead.

So, corner rounded, they were stuffed into addressed and stamped envelopes with some haste yesterday afternoon, as the pups became impatient for their walk and the kids needed to get out of the house, having refused to take naps at lunch time, and the invitations have now been individually posted by big brother Ollie.  Not long now before I'm musing over Max being here in the world with us for a whole year. Blimey.

March 18, 2011

a love of books

One of Ollie and Max's Christmas presents (commandeered by Ollie no less) was This is London by Miroslav Sasek.  It's a well known, time honoured, hard backed book about the city we love, full of facts and the most wonderful, detailed and atmospheric illustrations, that have the ability to transport me back to that awe inspiring city.

Ollie adores it, and This is Paris (by the same author).  We've read them both to him countless times, but even after only a few times, Ollie was able to finish the sentences and tell us what came next.  He continues to amaze me with his sponge like memory and fascination for the amazing detail in Sasek's illustrations.

I'm not sure that I've ever written about Ollie's love of books, which I am beginning to think is unparalleled.  Will is a bookworm and I love to read too, although I don't do it nearly as much as I used to.  I remember loving story time, and my dad used to take me to the library every Thursday for a while there (I remember the librarian that wore long, flowing '70s style kaftans and bright blue eye shadow with her long brown hair swept back into a big brown bun - she was a librarian version of the brilliant Margot Leadbetter, the height of sophistication to me in those days).  I have favourites from my childhood, but we've really started afresh with the boys, buying and borrowing books that we've never seen before, that we like the look of or that we've heard are a hit.  Ollie has from day one enjoyed being read to, Max not so much, but he's definitely getting more and more enthusiastic for story time now.  The stories by Julia Donaldson, Oliver Jeffers, the illustrations by Axel Scheffler and David Roberts - these only scrape the surface of the book world that Ollie is entranced by and Max is slowly but enthusiastically entering.

So, I've discovered how involved story time can be, how much more there is to a story than just the words and pictures.  It is such a lovely thing to read to little ones and I know I will write about this again.  In the mean time, it feels good to realise our children have opened me up to a world of story telling and illustration that might have otherwise passed me by.

March 6, 2011

finally framed

Ah, that feels better.  I may not have started Max's quilt, but I'm not sitting around doing nothing either.  It's an ongoing project that I hope will never end, but I have finally got round to framing just a few of the many photographs and pieces of art work that I have been collecting.  We live in a little wooden house with white walls, and I have the urge to fill the walls with those images that we love, the ones that evoke a memory or strike inspiration or just look plain lovely.

And here we are.  Thank you IKEA for some fabulously simple, sturdy and well priced frames, and thank you to the artists responsible for making our little house the home it is, including Jim Datz for his Manhattan print, Matty Cipov for his amazing little collections, including Field Studies and Bird Survey, my dear friend Kate for her gift of this cute tea towel from Lovely Lovely that I couldn't bring myself to actually use as a tea towel, and of course, our resident artist, Oliver J Downes.  We framed his first painting, and another that he brought home the other day that I just adore and I'm stoked with them.

Now we need to find a place for them on our walls, and there are many more that I still want to frame, including a poster which pays homage to the continuing influence of the Pixies on my life, more of the boys' artwork and cherished photographs from now and long ago.  In this age of t'internet and digital photography (which I love, don't get me wrong), it's just so nice to actually pick out those few images that capture you and yours and let the world see them too.

March 4, 2011

taking my time

Well it's now only 27 days until Max's first birthday and I have stitched exactly zero patches together for his birthday quilt.  I have procrastinated, blaming lack of time, lack of inspiration and now I'm just accepting that it won't be done in time.  The closest I've got to a quilt is experimenting with Will's colouring pencils, working out which combination of colours will have the same impact as the quilt I made for Ollie (which I will blog about one day), but be suitably different and Max-like.  That was good fun, mind, and it was rather therapeutic to sit down and do nothing but scribble.  It reminded me of the time when I used to get 50p a week pocket money, and I saved and saved and saved until I had £6, which I then took to WHSmiths to buy a set of colouring pencils.  I loved them and had them for ages.  I guess a love of all things crafty starts early.  

Anyway, even though I am so very behind with this little project, my aim now is to have at least the quilt top complete by the end of this month, and then I can hand quilt it at a leisurely pace and do it with the time and loving attention it deserves.  I do enough rushing around as it is, this is one thing I want to take my time over.  I think he'll thank me for it one day.

March 1, 2011

playing together

It's been a long time coming, but Ollie and Max finally seem to be playing together.  It still happens, but Ollie's less quick to grab or be frustrated with Max and his curious little hands that seem to want anything Ollie has.  Ollie's learning to take turns, to share his toys (with anyone) and to just move away if Max gets a little too enthusiastic around him and his toys, by which time Max has found something else to do.

This weekend past we went down to the Coast on Sunday morning.  Ollie wasn't feeling the most cooperative he's ever been, but he willingly shared the toys and gadgets he had with his cousin, who pretty much only wanted them because Ollie had them.  It made my heart swell up with pride at how keen he was to share, to take turns and to wait until the toy was left stranded again before picking it up and starting over.

And then today, sitting in the shopping trolley at the supermarket, eating his grapes, handing them one by one to his little brother and making sure, absolutely sure Max was holding the grape before letting go, showing that brotherly love that I guess you can't really describe.

Why is it that we dwell on the negatives?  There are so many sweet, thoughtful things that Ollie and Max do, yet instead of celebrating them, I worry about the difficult days.  It's all about balance, I suppose.  I guess that's why I keep this blog.  So many things to remember and keep with my heart forever and always.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...