Pregnancy Diary: 24 weeks

Today I am 24 weeks and 6 days pregnant.

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24 weeks feels like a milestone so although it has been a busy few weeks with moving (more on that later), I was determined to record this week and I just about got it done in time!

By now baby is apparently around 30cm long (a ruler’s length!), his or her tastebuds are fully developed and lungs are making cells that will produce surfactant, the substance that will help their lungs inflate after birth.

It feels like a milestone as generally, 24 weeks is the earliest a baby can survive if they decide to try and meet the outside world before their allotted cooking time is up. I know it sounds a bit odd but during this pregnancy I’ve been much more aware of the fragility of pregnancy, birth and babies than I have in the past two. Every day is a blessing and I pray that come February, there’ll be a healthy, happy, small addition to our family.

This week I’ve been sore and in a bit of pain. This is largely my own fault for not getting enough rest during the move but I find it impossible the sit and watch whilst Dan and friends pack and move around me! Thankfully, tomorrow should see the end of it and I can slowly  unpack and  let my body recover.

I’m going to leave this short and sweet as….to be honest, I’m exhausted! But I’ll make time at the weekend to sit down and tell you all about the move. Until then, take care .

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Review: Djeco Light Clay Super Heroes and Maxi Hama Beads

The lovely Merry over at Craft Merrily sent us these kits to review this week and the kids had much fun this morning absorbed in both activities. The timing was perfect as with the move imminent (only three more sleeps!), I’ve been packing up all our craft materials, puzzles, board games, books…well you get the idea! So it was great to be able to produce something new and exciting for them to do this morning. I felt a bit less guilty about the fact that everything they have been asking to play with or do has been packed into a box this week leaving them with minimal choice left.

We started with the Djeco light clay super heroes kit as Isaac has an ongoing playdough obsession so I thought it’d be right up his street and hopefully keep them entertained for a decent amount of time! They were both very excited upon opening the box and even more so when they got the hang of what they had to do.

djeco start

I have to admit, at first I wasn’t massively impressed as I felt like it was quite a closed activity in that the object is to make the six super hero animals and there isn’t much scope for using the clay in any other capacity. I however, stand corrected for two reasons. Firstly, I forgot how much Sophia loves following instructions so having a very specific goal to aim for was great for her. She liked sorting out the parts for her super hero and then rolling the clay to the right shape before putting their legs, arms and head in. Secondly, if you did want to make the super heroes into different shapes or do something else with the clay, at the end of the day nothing is stopping you from doing so!

Isaac initially got quite cross with the clay, it was quite sticky and wasn’t doing what he wanted it to! But he got over it and was very excited to use which super heroes he was going to make and with (a little) help very much enjoyed doing so. He is being remarkably patient (for him) as they are currently drying overnight and is looking forward to playing with them tomorrow.

clay!

making

models isaac

sophia models

I asked the kids what they thought of the kit afterwards. Isaac said he likes his crocodile, tiger and giraffe and Sophia said she LOVED making them and LOVED her creations! So I’d count that as a success! For what my opinion is worth, I thought the kit was ace. The clay is very tactile and easy to use and the results are brilliant and easy for small people to achieve. They have a whole range of different kits with the same ‘light’ clay that you can find here and I think they are really good value for money. I’d certainly consider buying one in the future, especially as a gift for Sophia’s friends.

The finished super heroes!

The finished super heroes!

After a bit of a break we moved on to the maxi hama beads. I knew these would be a success as Sophia has had a kit in the past and loved doing them. She was over the moon when she saw the rocking horse set and even happier when Isaac declared he wanted no part in it which meant she could settle down to do it by herself. I’d been wondering whether she would be able to move on to the regular sized beads yet but actually, I think the maxi size are still the best size for her to use. She initially decided she was going to make her own pattern which surprised me but soon decided that actually she would copy the suggested pattern that came with the kit.

beading

starting

I left her to it and went to occupy Isaac and do some more packing. Before I knew it, she called me in and presented me with her finished rocking horse. As I think the picture clearly shows, she loved doing it and was very happy with the finished (pre ironed) result!

before ironing sophia

Unfortunately for me, Isaac then decided that he wanted to play with hama beads as well. Unfortunate as I wasn’t sure if there was enough beads left for him to do a complete horse. There wasn’t but he had enough to do the body of a horse with shortened legs and tail! He couldn’t care less about the loss of limbs and much enjoyed getting involved in some beading. I was surprised by his manual dexterity in filling the board without knocking them off their little pegs and by his concentration in staying at the table until he’d finished.

beading!

before ironing isaac

As I suspected would be the case, maxi hama beads were a roaring success in this household! I knew Sophia would love them but was pleasantly surprised to find that Isaac could manage to do them and enjoyed them too. I have been meaning to buy Sophia new beads for almost a year now, in fact after Isaac decided to destroy some of Sophia’s previous creations I did end up pulling them completely apart so that the beads could be reused. Bit scabby! So I’ll definitely be buying beads for both of their stockings this year and possibly a new board each as well, just for fun! You can find the whole range (including maxi, midi and mini!) here at Craft Merrily. I remember them from my childhood, we used to have a humongous box of beads that was regularly topped up so it brings me much pleasure to see my children getting the bug for them as well. A staple in any families crafting collection I think!

finished horse sophia

finished horse

 

I’m looking forward to doing more and more crafting as the cold days draw in and am really pleased that Isaac has just reached a point where he’ll actually sit down and join in rather than throw the component parts around or try and eat the materials. I’m especially grateful for this new found skill on his part in the light of the new baby arriving in February. It makes me a bit less panicky about how I’ll manage continuing activities with the big two whilst tending to a tiny one.

A very big thank you to Merry at Craft Merrily for sending us these kits to review, they were much enjoyed by both my small people and provided a welcome break from the monotony of the fifth house move in as many years! We’ll definitely be returning to Djeco and Hama Beads for more crafting opportunities before too long.

On sleep deprivation and one upmanship

I started this post yesterday but managed to delete it so thought I would rewrite it today. There’s a certain amount of irony in the timing of this post and what happened last night which can’t go unmentioned. For the last week Isaac has been sleeping from bedtime until 6am without waking up. By my reckoning, this is the first time in 5 years that I have had uninterrupted sleep for more than a night or two at a time. Of course, having typed that yesterday, last night Dan and I were up tag teaming from midnight until roughly 3am settling a very disturbed young man who then ended up in bed with us a few hours later anyway. But such is life, hopefully it wasn’t a freak stretch of sleeping through and he’ll return to that habit tonight! Anyway, I digress…

If you had told a childless me that I would be facing 5 years of disrupted sleep and varying degrees of sleep deprivation I simply wouldn’t have believed you. Society today tells us that babies should be sleeping through the night by 6 months and I certainly didn’t think that I’d be up regularly in the night with a 2 or 3 year old. But turns out, what popular culture likes to tell us is how things should happen and the actual reality of those expectations are miles apart. Having said that, to those that regularly sleep 8 hours without interruption and are feeling horrified at the prospect of that being disturbed for so long, sleep deprivation and disrupted sleep are two very different beasts. Neither are pleasant but the latter is definitely manageable.

The sleep deprivation that comes with newborns and times of illness, teething or developmental spurts is tough, no two ways about it. When it’s your first you can sleep when baby sleeps or at least rest but it’s not so easy when you have older children to care for. This sleep deprivation can leave you surviving on caffeine, with headaches, feeling depressed or unmotivated and falling asleep on the sofa by 8pm. Although I am so excited about baby number 3, I’m seriously a bit worried about how I’m going to manage in the early days with two very boisterous older children at home! I last experienced this sleep deprivation in  July when a nasty tummy bug had me up numerous times in the night  and barely sleeping for three weeks as first Sophia, then me and then Isaac suffered. At the end of the three weeks I told Dan that I was pretty sure I might have antenatal depression. I had no patience with the children, no motivation to do anything, felt no positivity towards anything or anyone, felt run down and was just absolutely exhausted. Dan gently suggested that it could be sleep deprivation. I was annoyed with him for not taking me seriously but a week later after some much improved (but still disturbed) nights I felt a million times better. I had energy to do my workouts and take the kids out, I felt enthusiastic about things and was generally all round brighter. It was then that I realised how much sleep deprivation can affect us.

In contrast, I personally find disrupted sleep annoying but doable. Up until she was almost 4 Sophia woke at least once (often twice) in the night, she would settle quite quickly but still required attention. Up until last week Isaac (coming up to 3) was waking between one and three times a night. Sometimes he wants water, sometimes he has fallen out of his (very low) bed, sometimes he wants a cuddle or to come into my bed and sometimes he’s obviously had a bad dream. Although it’s no fun dragging myself out of bed to go and soothe him, I find that as long as I get to bed at a reasonable hour, my sleep duration isn’t affected and although I’d much rather sleep straight for 8 hours, it doesn’t affect me too much the next day.

(An aside, when Dan is home he often goes to comfort Isaac in the night if he wakes first but he is away 1-3 nights most weeks and given that he is constantly managing his ME and is our wage earner, I think it makes more sense for me to get up where possible as at the end of the day, let’s face it, if I’m knackered in the morning, I can stay in bed reading books with the kids, cancel plans and if needed, resort to a bit of iplayer downtime!)

One of the things I hate though is the one upmanship that can come into play when it comes to sleep (and just about everything parenting related!) I remember talking about being tired when Sophia was a babe to have several mothers with more than one child telling me how easy I had it and to just wait. Just wait until you have more they said. Now I’m not saying they were wrong (!) but I am saying that this kind of comment is not in the least bit supportive or helpful. Neither is judging someone else’s lifestyle and how they could ‘solve’ their sleep issues (unless of course they’ve come to you asking for ideas or advice). Lack of sleep affects us all differently but it does affect us all. It doesn’t matter if we have one child or four, we’re still allowed to talk about how we’re feeling without it becoming a competition as to who is the most tired.

As parents we should be building each other up, supporting each other and sympathising through the tough times. Not telling us that it will just get worse or that we’re making too much of a big deal of it or probably worse of all, that somehow it is our fault. A cup of tea, a hug, a gentle reminder that this too shall pass. This is what is needed to parents who are suffering under the strain of not having enough sleep.

I’m not really sure what the purpose of this post is other than to maybe try and help eradicate the myth that babies should be sleeping through the night from a ridiculously young age. If your baby is still waking at night, it’s not your fault. I know there is a lot of research and articles out there looking at what natural sleep patterns are for babies and small children that supports what I’m saying but I’m not going to dig it all up right now. For one thing, it’s almost 9pm and I’m exhausted from last night and will be heading to bed very soon! But I just want to encourage anyone who needs it that this really won’t last forever, to go easy on yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed. I could wax lyrical about how the sleep deprivation is worth it for their beautiful smiles, heart meltingly cute mispronunciations and general loveliness but that goes without saying. Not getting enough sleep sucks. End of. So snatch the extra minutes in bed when you can and do what you need to do to keep going. We’re all in this together.

Pregnancy Diary: 22 weeks

Today I am 22 weeks and 4 days pregnant.

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Baby is apparently 28cm long (ish!) and tooth buds are starting to form in the gum.

He or she is definitely making their presence known these days, the movements are more regular and getting stronger and I feel like I’ve lost all the space between my blossoming belly and chest. Isaac and Sophia have spontaneously been kissing and talking to the bump and we’ve started reading Hello Baby and I am loving their interest in their sibling-to-be.

I have to admit I’ve been worrying this week a bit about how I’m going to meet all their needs come February, especially on the days and nights when Dan has to work away from home. The idea of having a 5 year old, 3 year old and newborn is simultaneously terrifying and exciting! I know there will be a lot of benefits to having them close together but I’m also being realistic about a potentially tough period for a few months next year. Especially in the light of home educating Sophia. She is so eager to always be doing work which is great but could potentially be a bit problematic with a tiny. I’m trying to remember to build some intentional quiet time into each day and also provide time and opportunities for them to play without guidance, input or refereeing from me! Right now, they are playing with play dough together and have been happily for 30 minutes or so so I’ll chalk that up as a win!

All in all though, I’m starting to get very excited about meeting Baby D, version 3. I think once we’ve moved it’ll be February before we know it so I’m trying to not wish away time and enjoy each day as it comes.

Changing seasons

It is most definitely Autumn now after a delightfully warm Indian summer throughout September. I’m not sure if I have a favourite season or not but I do love the transition from long, hot days to cooler mornings and dark cosy evenings around the fire (whilst we still have one). Our home ed curriculum follows the seasons and it is so lovely to be consciously acknowledging the change and exploring different elements of it. So far we have covered vegetables, milk, tractors, wheat and wool. Next week we’ll  be focusing on apples (which should be especially great as the orchard outside is abundantly full of the fruit) and then looking at leaves and the signs of autumn in weeks after that.

 

making butter

Making butter in milk week

tracks in mud

‘Muddy’ tracks in tractor week

Cleaning muddy vehicles

Cleaning muddy vehicles

Weaving fun in wool week

Weaving fun in wool week

I’m conscious that each of these subjects could be explored in a lot more depth than we have been doing but I think our approach has been just involved enough for where Isaac and Sophia are at the moment and am also aware that we will more than likely be following this curriculum again in the future specifically for Isaac and the baby. We are reading the suggested fact and fiction book each, doing a few related activities and Sophia is doing a journal page at the end of the week which is a good comprehension exercise as she summarises the story book we’ve been reading that week, then writes her summary down and draws a picture to accompany it.  She loves maths and science though so does a  lot of key stage 1 worksheets (mostly addition, ordering and sequencing) and we’ve been working our way through a KS1 science book. She also spends a bit of time on the laptop once or twice a week doing interactive activities in these subjects. We’ve also been borrowing the Biff, Chip and Kipper first reading books from the library and she practises reading those with me several times a week. When she is doing activities where she needs less or no help from me, I tend to do puzzles with Isaac or basic counting and letter recognition as he is beginning to show a keen interest in both (but especially counting).

But, I’ve got distracted. Back to Autumn! I’m enjoying marking the change in seasons through our home ed activities and we’ve been talking about it a lot. The time spent outside in the garden is shortening, the kids do still run around outside most days but usually for a few 10-20 minute bursts rather than the majority of the day that they did just a month ago. Sophia made me laugh the other day though, I suggested watching a movie together after a busy morning but the sun was out and she said we shouldn’t waste a sunny day watching a movie! A good attitude to have! Nonetheless,  we are spending more time doing table based activities (quilt squares, painting, playdough) and more time cooking. I’m trying to make sure we don’t just make cakes and they occasionally get involved with helping me make dinner (when I’m feeling patient enough for it to take three times as long)! Forest School forces us to intentionally spend some time outside each week and once we’re back in Topsham it will be easier for me to get us out for a bit of time each day, to observe the autumnal changes first hand. The leaves are changing colour, the blackberries are almost over and the air feels much cooler. But at the end of these short bursts of outside activity, I’m enjoying being at home, curling up on the sofa with a pile of books and the kids, bringing our play and activities inside.

Berry picking

Berry picking

Isaac has spotted hay bales!

Isaac has spotted hay bales!

Warming up at home

Warming up at home

Being so conscious of the changes in the natural world around us is causing me to reflect further on the changes in our lives. As our move fast approaches (a fortnight on tuesday!) I’ve been thinking about our journey as a family. Conveniently this is actually my 100th post on this blog so it seems like a good time all round to assess where we’re at and how far we’ve come since my first post this month 2 years ago (I’m 4 days early otherwise it could have been 2 years exactly)! Back then, Isaac was just 9 months old and we were living on our floating home, Pinafore in Brighton Marina. Looking back, my first posts were about time spent at the allotment we worked on with friends, Sophia’s initial forays into reading and writing and life on board a 31ft yacht as a family of 4. Since then we have moved twice, are now living on land in Devon and are unexpectedly expecting child number 3. Bit of a change!

I had intended this blog initially to just record our home educating journey so that interested friends and family could check out what we were up to and so that I  had a way of noting what we were up to and how the kids were progressing in their education. Since then I have expanded to waxing lyrical about gardening, nature and an off grid approach to life, ranting about politics and generally musing on parenthood and life. I think this was a natural evolution and look forward to seeing where the focus is in another 2 years. Mostly though, despite changes, in the seasons and in our life, I just hope that this blog still exists in 2 years. I’m not great at recording our lives physically in photo albums, scrapbooks and beautiful collages on our walls but I cherish having this online record. Something we can come back to in the future to remember our antics and to revisit ideas as I approach the beginning of home education properly with Isaac and then the baby. And finally, I hope that is might be of some use or interest to other folk out there in this virtual realm.

So here’s to another 2 years…and hopefully a lot longer!

For comedy value...literally the only family photo I could find of us from 2014!

For comedy value…literally the only ‘family’ photo (by which I mean, a photo that all 4 of us are in) I could find of us from 2014!

Pregnancy Diary: 21 weeks

Today I am 21 weeks and 4 days pregnant.

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Baby is apparently 27cm long and it’s eyelids and eyebrows are fully formed. I love these facts, they’re so cool!

What was even cooler today was having my 20 week scan (a bit late, ahem). We were in there for a good 30/40 minutes as baby was being awkward in positioning so I got leant backwards and throughly prodded with the ultrasound ‘probe'(?) until she was happy with all the measurements and things checked. I love seeing the bones and knuckles and little nose, makes it all feel so real, can’t believe am over half way there already! As promised we didn’t find out the gender (although I did have a sneaky peek I couldn’t decipher that area either way) so I guess we’ll find out come February.

Feeling alright really, SPD plays up daily but is still manageable wit heat and rest if I take it easy. Acid reflux is a real pain but I know to avoid tomatoes and sugar and have a gigantic jar of gaviscon when needed! Dan and the kids have just about felt some kicking which makes me happy, good way for the kids to engage with their new sibling. Isaac especially is talking to stare at and seek out babies and talk about it a lot which is nice.

It’s a nice stage of pregnancy, this middle one. Am trying to not wish it away and really enjoy each day as it comes as it probably will be the last time I’m pregnant.

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We’re going home!

So, in less that a month we will be leaving this…

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View from our front door

and moving to this…

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View of our new front door

We must be mad eh?!

But the new house is in Topsham and that pretty much changes everything.

We’ve been only at the beautiful Old Apple Barn 7 months so this could be the record for our shortest time in one place but at the end of the October we’ll be completing our 5th move in as many years. Itchy feet much!

In all seriousness though, a sequence of boring events preceded this decision (new baby on the horizon, rent being raised, my car breaking without reasonable repair) but what is boils down to is that for us, right now, in the great battle of being in the country vs in the community, the community wins out.

Whilst we love living rurally and the benefits it brings, we really miss living in a community with friends, good transport links and amenities within a stones throw. Every time I go back to Topsham (at least once a week for dancing) I feel like we shouldn’t have left, I see half a dozen people I want to catch up with and feel sad when the time comes to leave. So although we will miss our big country garden, the chickens, the uninterrupted view of rolling hills, the peace and quiet and the woodburner we think that they are sacrifices worth making.

I’m so excited to have so many good friends nearby, to be able to actually walk places with the kids, to be part of our local community again. Especially with the arrival of the new baby come February, I know having that support structure is going to be invaluable. And being minutes from the train station means that car-less friends have no excuse not to visit! It’s going to be great!

We have loved living here, it’s felt like an extended holiday-this is the kind of house we used to look at renting for a week. And I think that living rurally is something that Dan and I might return to in the future (if we don’t end up back on a boat) but right now, Topsham is where we want to be.
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