Noticing the details: Calm in the chaos

Laurence is set to work in London for a while so he’s taking a much welcomed long weekend before he goes. Having left him with the kids for a couple of hours, I rejoined him to hear: “How do you balance—“. Before he could finish, I exclaimed: “I don’t!” Literally anything that could follow the word “balance” is not something I feel like I’m achieving right now. It’s incredibly humbling.

What I need to find is a balance between what I have to accept and what I must change. Right now that feels like a never-ending and rather confusing pursuit. I’m sure it does for a lot of us. A few things have been helping me to find some calm in the chaos recently. So once again, I’m here, noticing the details.

The power of gardening
Gardening for enjoyment is something that has crept up on me so unexpectedly. Just a few years ago, I was the person who couldn’t keep a house plant alive. When Laurence got into vegetable growing, I was happy to nod and smile at his drawn garden plans (half-thinking of something else) and grudgingly watered and did pest control.

Little by little, nature has worked it’s magic on me. I don’t get half as much done as I’d like when I’m out in the garden – what with having to field a young toddler hell-bent on taste testing the compost in every bed and often needing to rush off to wherever we’re going next. Still, every moment out there feels very much a precious gift. I’m simultaneously emptying my mind, as I relax into mundane tasks like weeding, and applying it as I read about what each plant needs and search for explanations of the simplest terms.

It doesn’t come naturally. I am making a lot of mistakes. I don’t even remember the names of everything I’m growing. But – and I’d never have believed I’d say this about gardening – I’m having a heck of a time.

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How my girls are changing
Ophelia’s development is scarily speedy now at fifteen months. She’s started saying “Mummy” very clearly and she understands so much of what we say to her. She’s picking up signs like nobody’s business but also trying to say the words too. Her walking has turned into very funny running. She’s trying to climb everything and is a bit of a daredevil.

She has a sense of humour too, pulling funny faces and bowling all of us over while laughing. We are now subject to relentless requests for “Row, row?” and dancing.

No matter how gently “no” or “don’t” is said, she’s extremely sensitive to it, throwing herself on the ground, wailing. It unnerves me, realising that this child is so different from my other, that I am not expert because I’ve parented one through this challenging stage. I’m learning what she needs.

Talitha seems to be entering a new phase of her development too. The conversations we have are far more complex and, honestly, I don’t know the answer most of the questions she asks. Reading and writing have picked up at an unexpected pace and she’s starting to add and subtract too. Her pictures are amazingly detailed now.

I can see why school or at least pre-school happens around this age. Her mind is so busy that planning our days feels like a full-time job, making sure we see people, making sure she has things available to do the things she wants and needs to do. I oscillate between loving it and feeling a little out of my depth. It’s both inspiring and challenging.

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Crafty inspirations
A couple of weekends ago we were given tickets to check out an Outlaw artisan craft show at The Passenger Shed in Bristol. It was a chance to meet up with my mother-in-law who’s a bookbinder and had friends showing their work as well as with Jess from Along Came Cherry and her daughter. As far as Talitha’s concerned, she’s just her friend’s mummy.

I’ve been getting more into crafting recently, with crocheting a granny blanket and sewing a child’s dress both on my 30 things to do before I’m 30 list. There’s a local project going to knit a tea cosy for our community cafe so I’m learning to knit too. It’s all pretty addictive and makes me feel a lot more productive in the evenings if I’m watching television. I’m not very good, mind, and I’ve yet to finish anything but it’s been really enjoyable exploring something so new and kind of empowering.

Walking around Outlaw, there were lots of crafts to inspire – maybe I’d give decoupatching a chair a go, maybe? But also lots I’d like to take home. Years of hard work and dedication were evident. Everything was so fresh and unique. Nothing stuffy here.

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Less coffee, more herbs
I came to the realisation recently that coffee is making me feel worse than I should. Now, I’m still drinking more coffee than I should but I’m trying to phase it out by drinking more water and opting for tea with loose herbs instead. Surprisingly, that three o’ clock fog is starting to dissipate and I’m feeling less anxious towards the end of the day. I don’t know for sure that it’s related but even if I’m just tricking myself into having less caffeine, that’s a positive thing.