Friday, 23 March 2007

found treasures

Our household is slowly recovering after two days of distress. On Tuesday evening we found out that Lucas had caught chickenpox. He was very miserable and the combination of fever, pain and itchiness was just a little bit too much for his four-year-old body to handle. Simon took two days off work to look after him so I could continue working at home and not get too exhausted. He decided to go back to work this morning, though, after checking that Lucas was feeling a lot better. In fact, he feels well enough to be left to his own devices downstairs while I stay here in the study to work. Er, and blog. Occasionally.

I have been thinking recently of vintage children’s illustrations and how beautiful they are. I think I am drawn by the subtle use of colours and the delicate line drawings which emphasize the beauty and innocence of the children they depict. This has inadvertently led me to rediscover the Flower Fairies books by Cicely Mary Barker in Lucas’s room. After my father-in-law reorganised his home office last year, he delivered boxes of books and papers to our house for storage. Simon and I found old photos, school notes, textbooks, ancient cookbooks and gardening books in the boxes. There were also a few children’s books, mostly the Peter Rabbit tales and the Flower Fairies. I had never heard of the Flower Fairies before, and a quick look at the books left me fascinated with the beautiful colour plates. I decided to put them away in Lucas’s room.

Yesterday I felt the urge to have a closer look at the books. I ended up collecting them from Lucas’s room (I had to do this stealthily as he tends to be very possessive about his books) and putting them in the study so I can look at them whenever I want to. The pictures are so pretty I have decided to get a scanner so I can print my favourites out to decorate the baby’s room.

I am now also convinced that we have the first editions of the books. They are undated, as the earliest editions were, and have the distinct chequerboard design on the covers. I think we have some real treasures here in our home, and although the temptation to have them appraised and eventually put up for sale is strong, I think I’d rather hold on to them for now. The fairies are trying to tell me something, I’m sure, and I’ll keep looking at them until I get the message.

Right now, I’m reading Flower Fairies of the Spring and this is one of my favourite pictures from the book:

Cicely Mary Barker used real children as models for her paintings. The Primrose Fairy above was modelled by Gladys Tidy, who did the housework for the Barkers every Saturday.

When I’m not looking at the fairies, I daydream about crochet and sewing projects. I have seen so many inspiring projects on the blogosphere that I feel it’s about time I go out and get a sewing machine and start churning out bags, dresses and toys. I have even decided which sewing machine to get. Here’s my dream machine:

This is the Janome Limited Edition 4618. It has all the features I need to do the basic stuff, and it will also let me do quilting. All for £149. Yummy. Now all I need to do is convince Simon that I really need a sewing machine and that our lives will be so much better once I get one.

Monday, 19 March 2007

thirty weeks

I am thirty weeks pregnant now. Just ten more weeks to go. Or, if this baby is anything like her brother who came out three weeks early, maybe even less. I feel like I'm racing against time, trying to put the house in order, grabbing every opportunity to sleep and put my feet up while I still can.

The role of spring cleaning supervisor does not suit me very well. I was getting frustrated yesterday as Simon went about cleaning the lounge, and all I could do was sit and watch him and tell him where to put things. I was itching to do the hoovering, but I wasn't even allowed to use the handheld vacuum cleaner, which Lucas appropriated for himself to hoover his room.

I miss baking and walking into town and visiting the craft shops. Sigh. I tried to do some gardening on Saturday, but my hips gave out after about an hour of weeding the vegetable patch and putting a few bulbs we kept from last year in the ground. Yesterday was Mother's Day, but I felt too frustrated and depressed to celebrate properly, so we just stayed home. It was nice spending the day with my boys anyway, and watching them have so much fun playing their rough games.

Oh, and despite a sunny start to the day, the temperature dropped yesterday afternoon and we had hail and sleet for about twenty minutes. The weather has turned absolutely mad. It's supposed to snow all over the country today, although you wouldn't think it right now, as it looks like a normal spring day. Lucas, however, is a firm believer in weather reports, so this morning, he decided to wrap himself in winter clothes, ready for the snow:

Friday, 16 March 2007

the long wait

I get the feeling that my life of late has been filled with waiting. There are the antenatal checkups and visits to the doctor that are supposed to last less than ten minutes, but somehow I always end up waiting for an hour to be seen. I have started taking my own magazines to the surgery, as I have read all their Country Living magazines already.

Then there was the annoying wait for the inital phone consultation with a physiotherapist, after I phoned the hospital to say that I have SPD and need to be seen as quickly as possible. After three days of waiting in agony, I phoned the hospital again, only to find out that the person who took my details did not write down that I'm pregnant and have SPD. I got fitted with my pelvic brace two days later.

When I went back to the office this week, I asked to be allowed to work from home so I won't have to travel every day as this is aggravating my condition. I was told that there would have to be a risk assessment first to be conducted by the HR head, and I had to wait until Thursday before that could be set up. Well, we were supposed to have the meeting yesterday morning, but Simon had to rush me to the surgery at 10 because I was in so much pain, and just couldn't take it anymore. Something that could have been avoided if my risk assessment took place a lot earlier and I had been allowed to work from home this week.

Which is what I ended up doing today. Except that because I'm still waiting for the IT department to set up my work PC so I can access it from home, I can't really do much here. And that means I'll definitely have to go back to work on Monday, regardless of how I'm feeling, just so my remote access can be sorted out. The frustration is enough to make me want to tear my hair out, but I try and sit calmly at my desk instead, waiting for Bump to perform her normal routine of kicks, punches and hiccups.

I also had a delicious lunch to comfort me. Simon cooked this last night, and made plenty enough for me to have for lunch today as well. He was wonderfully attentive yesterday, after seeing me so distressed in the office. He made me stay in bed all afternoon after my doctor's appointment, and would rush upstairs every time he heard me get up, to make sure that I wasn't doing anything strenuous. He made me cups of tea and served me shortbread fingers and jaffa cakes, picked Lucas up and made his dinner, cooked our dinner, and gave Lucas a bath in the candlelit bathroom, which the boy absolutely loved.

Plus, my plant catalogues have arrived, so I'm enjoying perusing pages and pages of lovely flowers and vegetables, while having a bowl of fruit (my way of making up for all the chocolates I've been eating).

Come to think of it, I don't mind days like this, peppered with pauses that I can fill with things that make me happy.

Sunday, 11 March 2007

lazy sunday

Lucas and I ventured out into the garden this morning to take advantage of the sunshine. We discovered masses of weeds where our bedding plants are supposed to grow, so we spent almost an hour pulling weeds out. There are some more in the bird bath area, but I had to stop as my hips were starting to hurt. Lucas stayed on a bit longer to make mudpies, and threaten the weeds with getting beaten with sticks if they insist on growing again. He's now watching Robots, lunch is in the oven, and I'm giving my hips the rest they deserve, while planning the rest of the afternoon for the boy and me.

I'm going back to work tomorrow, so I'm feeling a bit apprehensive. I have a lot of catching up to do, and I also need to make sure the person who's going to cover for me while I'm on maternity leave won't have any problems finding his/her way through the work that he/she needs to do.

In the meantime, here are snapshots from Friday and Saturday:

Zen and the duck (later christened Snackie by the boy) showing each other some amigurumi love.

I was so pleased with how the duck turned out so I thought I'd reward him with a view of the world from my window.

And here he is, perched on top of my special amigurumi stash box.

This one I took on Saturday morning. Lucas saw me sorting my amigurumi things, and volunteered to stuff the unfinished cat. I'm so glad to have my little helper around!

Here's my boy again, and Zen chilling out on the pillow.

That's not a dark cloud over his head.

Zen and the art of being idle.

Thursday, 8 March 2007

in need of comfort

I've been off work for almost two weeks now. I've developed SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction), a condition in which my pelvic joints have separated. Things I used to do without a thought, like climbing up the stairs, walking and getting dressed, are now terribly painful. I was fitted with a support belt yesterday, an ugly thick band with three Velcro straps that sting my skin so I have to wear it over my clothes. This morning it took me forty minutes to walk a mile to the doctors' surgery for a checkup, and even longer to get back. I could only stare enviously at the old man walking sprightly just in front of me. Ah well. As my friend Kate said, 'Roll on, May!' I just can't wait until Bump comes out and the pressure on my poor old hips eases off.

Anyway, I've had a few things to give me some comfort over the past few weeks. Sadly, I haven't been able to bake anything as I can't stand for more than a few minutes at a time. I managed to cook a decent beef sinigang (tamarind soup) the other night, which Simon and Lucas thoroughly enjoyed. ('This is my favourite dinner!' Lucas said to us. I should let my mother know that, as it would make her heart swell to know that her 'Western' grandson appreciates his Filipino roots.) That's about it in the cooking department though. I can't wait until I'm well enough to spend a long time in the kitchen. I've amassed a lot of really nice recipes from the Internet and the magazines I bought to keep me company.

But I digress. Here's my list of comfort stuff:

1. Comfort food

Yummy chocolates. Yesterday on the way back from my physiotherapy appointment, I went to our local M&S and bought teacakes (the things covered in purple foil in the picture). They are absolutely delicious, these M&S teacakes. I've always been fond of teacakes. In the Philippines, there's only one chocolate manufacturer that makes them, and we don't call them teacakes. They are known by a less fancy name—chocomallows. I can't remember not ever liking these chocolates, and when I learned to make my own chocolates, they were among the first ones I made. They became a big hit among my customers too.

I also bought two types of Cadbury Dairy Milk Melts. I haven't tried them yet, but they look promising. When Simon came home last night, he gave me a bar of Green & Black's Maya Gold, and it was divine. Speaking of 'divine', Simon and I have a certain fondness for Divine chocolates as well. Mine is due to the fact that it's a fair trade brand, and Simon's is because their dark chocolate is very nice. I bought bags of their chocolate coins for Christmas, which were quickly gobbled up by my two boys.

I also bought and ate a big pack of Tyrrell's potato chips yesterday. I must say these are the best potato chips I have ever tasted! I first heard of Tyrrell's when its owner, Will Chase, raised a ruckus after Tesco's started selling his chips without asking his permission. He asked them to stop selling his products at once, and Tesco's had no choice but to comply. I immediately took a liking to him and his regard for the high quality and good reputation of his chips. He certainly has every right to be a snob about his products. These chips are so heavenly and addictive (and surprisingly, not that much more expensive than the more popular brands) I managed to eat a whole bag in three sessions.

2. Comfort reading

Good books always make good company. Need I say more?

Four from the library

And from my own collection, two books by two of my favourite artists

3. Comfort crochet

This is Zen, my blissful amineko, just waiting for his arms and tail to be attached

and his faceless, unnamed brother, with a duck friend (also faceless and nameless) and a pack of M&S shortbread fingers, which make a great midnight snack.

4. Comfort music

Simon gave me a micro hi-fi system for Christmas, which he installed in the spare room where I've been spending most of my time these days. I've been playing Vivaldi (for Bump), Cocteau Twins (because even after all these years, I still love them), Antony and the Johnsons, and 10,000 Maniacs (another old favourite, Natalie Merchant being one of the people I admire most in the whole world).