Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Enjoying the Journey

This post has been a long time coming. I was thinking about it over Christmas but I've struggled to get my thoughts into order, so I hope this doesn't sound too garbled.

It started when I was reading
The Continuum Concept. I expected the book would give me insight into raising children (which it did) but I was surprised that it had perhaps more advice for my personal development. Briefly, Jean Liedloff describes the radically different attitudes of the Tauripan people and the Westerners she travelled with when faced with a difficult journey (pp. 23- 25). She observed that she and her Italian companions were "grim faced and hating every moment" whereas the Tauripan people were smiling, joking and seemingly enjoying the arduous task of carrying a canoe through the jungle. Liedloff puts this down to the difference in expectation. She had been dreading the journey whereas the native people lived in the moment. The expectations of individuals coloured their actual experience.

This has a huge impact on my attitude to raising Alice. Sometimes, I am so focussed on reaching the goal, that the journey seems like a hassle. I have been guilty of wishing away parts of her babyhood as I think about the next stage: I can't wait until she can talk, it will make life so much easier, When she stops needing milk feeds so often I'll be able to be so much more productive and many, many similar thoughts. By doing this I am in danger of missing out on a time that neither of us will ever be able to recover. Even though some stages may be tough, they are precious.

Alice herself has taught me more patience recently. She enjoys walking outside more often now, and stops at every pebble and piece of litter to examine them. Sometimes she even goes back a little to step on a particularly enthralling paving slab. My grown up mind is screaming in frustration. Doesn't she know we're going to the park? We've got to reach the end point so she can play! Then I realise how ridiculous that thought is. She is playing. She's enjoying every step of the journey. She's living it, and learning from it. Children are born knowing how to do this, but in our society it is all too frequently sapped away.

I want to allow her to continue feeling the joy in the journey, whether it's an actual journey from one place to another, or a task that needs completing. I realise that this means that I need to model the behaviour myself. As I wash the dishes I try to enjoy the process. I put on some music, feel the warm water and bubbles and I am ready to stop without rolling my eyes and huffing if Alice wants me to read her a book instead. I leave extra time to go out, and try to see the world as she does. It isn't easy. In fact, I think it's a job that might never be finished, but I'm enjoying the journey.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011


It seems I'm starting a bit of an oats theme after yesterday's post!

Alice is like many toddlers. She prefers to graze throughout the day rather than sit down to three solid meals. It is sometimes hard to find snacks that are easy to take out and about but are also healthy. She has recently started enjoying oatcakes, but the bought ones all seem to contain fairly high salt levels, and they aren't that cheap to buy.

I've had a go at making some. I started with a few recipes, but I find this sort of thing better when you just throw in ingredients according to how it looks and feels, so if you want to try this out, use your judgement.

200g oats
2 tbsp plain flour
1/4 tsp salt (you could leave this out if you like, but I think a little is necessary)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp melted butter
A pinch of black pepper
Cold water

Put the oats, flour, salt, bicarb and melted butter into a food processor (or similar - a blender would probably work too). Blitz until the oats are broken down fairly finely.

Pour a little cold water at a time into the mixer while it's running until the mixture forms a stiff dough.

Remove the dough and knead it for a few minutes.

Roll out and cut out rounds. Put them on a greased baking tray and cook at around 200 for about 10 minutes, or until they are slightly brown around the edges.

Place on a wire rack to cool. Store them in an airtight container if they last that long!
I'm sure I'll be making these again. They'd be lovely with different herbs added, or even finely grated lemon of orange zest.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Natural relief for dry skin

Just a little post to pass on a favourite tip of mine.

Since being very little, Alice has had patches of quite dry skin and eczema. A trip to the doctor resulted in no less than 3 types of lotions and potions to try and clear it up. We dutifully used them for a while, but there was little real difference, and I became uneasy about using products packed with chemicals on her skin.

The only thing that has made a big difference to her skin after bath time has been oats. If she's having an eczema breakout, I put a tablespoon or two of oats into a piece of muslin, fold up the edges and tie with string to make a little parcel. I then pop this in the bath as it's running. It immediately makes the water cloudy, and squeezing the bag releases a gloopy liquid that is great to rub directly onto dry patches. I've found it good on my skin too if it dries out due to a combination of cold weather and central heating.

Cheap, natural and effective, it's worth a try.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Still Struggling

Over the past few months, I've learnt a few things.
  • A negative pregnancy test remains negative however much you squint at it, hold it in different lights or however close you hold it to your eye.
  • Stomach cramps may not herald the imminent return of a period, ovulation is about to occur or be conclusive proof that conception has happened.
  • Taking lots of pregnancy or ovulation tests, stroking your belly and thinking obsessively about conceiving don't make your chances of conception any higher.
  • Bad moods are more likely to be due to grey skies and the end of Christmas than a sign of PMT or pregnancy.

Despite the good intentions I discussed in my previous post, I've not managed to totally relax about our attempts to get pregnant. I think about it almost constantly. I've decide I really must get this in check, not only for my peace of mind, but for Alice too.

Some time ago, a friend with three children suggested you should consider every child you have to be your last. At the time, I didn't realised how wise this advice was. By thinking so much about the next pregnancy, birth and baby, I'm in danger of missing the stages Alice is going through. Regardless of whether I have another child, another 3 or no more at all, I want to enjoy Alice's development as much as I can. As I was reading Mothering Your Nursing Toddler by Norma Jane Bumgarner yesterday, this quote leapt of the page "If we can turn loose of our yearning to control what is out of our control, we'll have a chance to enjoy the blessings we have." (p56)

Unfortunately, my desire for another child seems to be more of a emotional need than an intellectual one, and so far however much I rationalise I find myself still struggling. It's good to have a challenge though I suppose.