Thursday, 5 November 2009

Baby knitting and a bit of rampant consumerism.

New baby arrives next month, and in the spirit of new parenthood, my plastic has been taking a bashing. Firstly, the folding wheel, to enable me to separate the toddler from my spinning, and vice versa. Kromski Sonata, brand new (only got it working last night) and I'm finding a fairly big adjustment process to a double treadle, and having to relearn drafting. Ho hum.
And secondly, the unwashed, unblocked, pile of baby knitting. There will be more to come, but on top of the stuff we have left from River, I have another cardigan for the noob, another hat and a blanket, plus a baby surprise jacket. There will be more to come as well. I'm counting down the days til Christmas, and I honestly am looking forward to it.
Bonfire night tonight! DH is at work until late, so I'm considering being reckless and taking the kids to not one, but two displays this year (in addition to the free fireworks our local motorcycle dealer put on last weekend. What do you think?

Sunday, 30 August 2009

The branding of mothering.

This month, my local Borders closed. No longer will I be able to go and buy my Starbucks Chai Latte and sit musing over a book whilst the children nap comfortably in the Phil and Teds buggy- let along pick up a copy of Interweave Knits or Mothering magazine. Ironically enough, in their inspiringly excellent closing down sale, I picked up a copy of Bonfire of the Brands, by Neil Boorman- and also Consumer Kids, which looks very promising.

As yet, I'm only on -109 days to the bonfire, but something he wrote struck a chord with me. On day -110, he visited Jim, one of those clever people who uses psychographic research (whatever the fuck that might be) to make us do things that we don't know we want to do. (The oversimplistic explanation is mine, all mine. Please, just read the book.) Neil asks why he has such a strong loyalty to Adidas
"over any number of lifestyle-defining sports brands.
'If you're so loyal to Adidas, you've probably been anchored when you were in a highly suggestible state. Brands are an external stimulus that trigger internal reactions. When you hear a certain piece of music, you will instantly remember a time or an event in the past associated with a strong emotion. Brands anchor themselves to a particular moment in your life and act as a trigger in the same way as music. Every time you see the brand, it triggers an emotion. Tell me about your earliest memories connected to Adidas.'
I recount memories from pop videos, watching Olympic athletes on TV, secretly falling in love with an older girl at school who had an Adidas tracksuit: none of these experiences seem to make sense. Then I remember the first day at school, being ostracised from the playground gang for not having the right gear; they were all wearing Adidas.
'That's it! Adidas is anchored to the feelings you felt that day. You were highly suggestive, you had a need for external connection and you saw the brand as a means to personal growth. When you see Adidas, you remember how it feels to be rejected, and it offers the possibility of acceptance. To you, Adidas is acceptance and love'" (p74)- my bolding.

I've been posting on internet parenting forums and communities for almost a decade now, from the UK homebirth yahoo group and Radical Mothers, to Hipmama (the brand extension for a magazine that I STILL haven't read, which I bitterly regret), mamatron and currently MDC. I'm a regular on one of the most exciting new brands to hit the internet, Ravelry- and yet, right now I have misgivings about my commitment. In particular, I'm having reservations about the time I have spent, over the years, supporting publications and doing their marketing for them, strengthening their brand image.

New mothers are often very suggestive. Often, we spend hours reading everything that we can access about birth, breastfeeding, the care and feeding of the magickal creature, the human newborn. So much of this is only normal, surely? One of the things that hits me again and again, though, is how frequently I see my compatriots in the trenches using brands to describe their daily life. The baby is carried in the Moby, naps in the Amby (or the Pack and Play), wears a FB or a BG on their bottom- unless of course, they're EC'ed, in which case mum probably has not only a potty, but a Baby Bjorn Little Potty. Let's not go into the jealousy I feel over Hanna Anderson, a brand that isn't available here. It feels, truly, as if the messages about baby stuff have been internalised- that the modern mother accepts that stuff is necessary, but selects her brands carefully for the statement that they make. A mother who uses Fuzzi Bunz on her infant- or my personal object of desire, the Blueberry- is making a very different statement than the mother who buys 60cm terry squares and folds them differently according to whether the child is a newborn or a toddler. In reading a single forum on MDC earlier today, I came across 100 brand references in 17 minutes- and by accepting the other brands, it strengthens the acceptance of the parent brand, the magazine hosting the discussion.

Current statistics are suggesting that new mothers spend a minimum of 3 hours a day on the internet- some suggest as much as 6 hours spent surfing parenting forums. That's a large amount of brand loyalty up for grabs. This comes back to the bolded up above- the brand, the Mothering brand in particular, offers external connection. It offers a means to personal growth- to a group of individuals who are at a highly suggestive time of their lives. Motherhood is hard. It is undervalued, and underrespected, there is no positive appraisal system and a lot of self-doubt. And into this, we have the brand.
MDC, in some ways, is an inspiring thing. The Holiday Helper community is awesome, and the FYT board has taken many a mother from geographic isolation to part of a RL community. It comes at a cost, though. The cost is loyalty, and perhaps the loss of our autonomy. There are posters who are savage in their condemnation of anyone who is not sufficiently loyal to the twin brands of Mothering and Attachment Parenting- because of course, judgement is not always wrong.
Recently, I've seen too many instances that make me worry that we are becoming loyal to the brand, rather than to our children. The mother who omits to mention her c-section, or the parent who accepts reassurance that a poor weight gain IS normal and chooses not to investigate further. Stories of midwives (unlicensed, sometimes) making outrageous suggestions completely unrelated to evidence based care. There's others. People talk laughingly of "drinking the koolaid"- but the fact is that brand loyalty in other areas of our life can interfere with our instincts and our ability to think for ourself. In fact, this is what it's designed to do. Why, then, should our loyalty to the Mothering brand be any different?

I'm interested in other people's opinions on this one. Am I being ridiculous, and reading too much into this? Or not enough?

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

The English summer





What's not to love about the long summer holidays? We have rain, drizzle, mizzle, torrential rain, flooding, greyness, and occasional breaks in sunshine which makes all the rain worthwhile. I'm convinced that my tomatoes are never, ever going to ripen though.
The sweater and necklace were knitted/crafted for a swap on MDC, and are now safely arrived at their new home in Germany. The pattern for the necklace lies here. Crochet is becoming easier as I go, which is nice. I think.
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Tuesday, 4 August 2009

When I was a little girl

When I was a little girl I believed that the reason we had summer holidays from school was so we could get watered, and could grow, ready for September. There's many reasons for this crackpot belief, but six weeks of solid rain was the biggest. Joy of joys, it looks like my children get one of these summers too.
We're making an effort to wrap them up in their waterproofs and get out, but darn it, it's miserable (and Vancouverians, you aren't helping.)
What this does mean is that I've had knitting time- and even crochet time. Unfortunately, I've also lost the camera cable, so I can't show you what I've been working on. I did remember to take a picture before posting it off, though. This is what happens when you have four kids stuck in the house for large amounts of time. They make a mess. Lots of it. So, this is really a quick post to make me feel less bad about neglecting the blog, and to moan about the weather- that most English of topics.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009






So at the weekend, we parcelled everyone in the car and drove them down to Longleat, because we've never been, and it looked like it was going to rain, and it seemed like a good idea at the time. And overall, it was lovely. I've never "done" a safari park before, though when we were in Colchester we were regulars at the zoo, and it was a completely different experience. The animals did appear less concerned by the cars and seemed more active and perhaps slightly less stressed than the humans around them, in their space, at the zoo?
River loved it. He's now most definitely "getting it" and is talking about things- so he was pointing and pointing and shouting about zebras and the giraffes and out of the car window at the animals he saw as we drove by. The big ones were happy too, but it wasn't new and fresh and exciting the way it was with River.

Knitting news and pics to follow, I should have a FO by tonight...
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Sunday, 28 June 2009

So, what I did when I forgot to blog.

So, we're in the new house, and it is everything we dreamt of (with the exception of the plumbing for the dishwasher. But that is getting sorted.) There is a luxury to having one's own bedroom, tiny though it may be, (the above view is from MY side of the bed) and in making a mess in one's own kitchen- even when the mess was not deliberate, but was caused by a small boy who is OH! So proud! because he has figured out how to help himself to nutella whilst mummy was distracted. It truly has been wonderful.
As yet, the house is very much a blank canvas. The walls remain painted solely with gardenia, the chalky first coat that builders put on brand new plaster, and there is no artwork up. Our ornaments and nicknacks aren't out on display yet and we have blinds of one kind or another in most of the rooms, not curtains. We do have a real sense of being able to take our time, to get it right, because this is our house and one way or another, we will make our mark on it and in a small way, everyone in the future will know that we were here, and what was important to us. If circumstances had been different, we would never in a million years have chosen a new build- we've spent the last five years obsessively reading self-build mags and watching Grand Designs, with visions of how we're going to restore and reclaim our Victorian terrace- but we have no choice but to live near Steve's father. He needs us- and with total honesty, there aren't that many older four bedroomed house in Swindon, and those that there are often go for more money than the new builds.
Part of this, of course, is baby underpants, the surprise Christmas present. One of the things that we actually talked about was how strange it was going to be living in a house that had never seen a birth, or a death- well, soon it will. I'm mentally measuring up the downstairs rooms for a birth tub- right now, I'm thinking that the kitchen is the best place, but that may change. Making the decision to continue the pregnancy wasn't easy for us- when you already have four kids, especially after as many losses as we've had, you can picture pretty clearly what you're in for- the highs as well as the lows. I honestly don't think that there is any right decision in a situation like this, where contraception fails after your family is complete- or rather, I think that both decisions were right. So yes- as things stand, I have a very wriggly bean growing in my belly, I'm 15 weeks pregnant and we're slowly starting to get excited. Cross your fingers and hope for a mellow kid for me, though, please?
And as knitting goes, I'm being thoroughly selfish. We were invited to a wedding for one of Steve's colleagues a few weeks back, and I realised with a week to go that I needed a shawl to go over my shoulders- and my knitting ego came creeping in and demanded a handknit. When will I learn? This is Ishbel, from Ysolda Teague, who generally writes effective and virtually bombproof patterns with some lovely construction. And yes, so far it's 50 rows of stocking stitch with 4 columns of eyelets (and obviously was not finished in time for the wedding) but you can still admire it. The yarn is seasilk by Elliebelly, who have sadly finished trading; Joyce was one of the first blogs I read when I discovered knitting, and has been a constant source of inspiration and amusement over the years. I'm astounded by the MMA she produces- so talented- and some of her dye jobs, especially the overdyeing, produce some wonderful hues. Last year's local yarn diet meant that I didn't stock up as much as I should have done, and now it's too late :( I'll never have her copper patina in my stash. This is Pellucidly- and I love it.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Sorry for the temporary absence.

I will be back with pictures shortly...

In the meantime, a little light reading

Friday, 17 April 2009

Moving pictures

Oh yes, there's more. Other highlights of the weekend included hanging out with family. No photos, but I love and miss my aunt and uncle, and I got to see my baby cousin, his new girlfriend and beautiful cocker spaniel. The springer up above is ours, Maya, who got so exhausted trying to get back up the sheer drop that she hurtled down in her desperate hurry to get into the river (that's the Wear) that she actually sat down for a rest on a walk. Not for long, mind, but it's exciting in and of itself. She may be growing up, and that would be quite exciting too.
Oh, and I'm pregnant. Again. No, I'm not ALWAYS pregnant, it just feels that way, yes, we do know what causes that, they are all mine and yes, we even own a TV. But if they hadn't cancelled Battlestar Galactica, we probably wouldn't be in this predicament ;)

What could be more British

than spending a bank holiday weekend stuck in the car trying to get to the seaside? It was so worth it, though. Whilst I'm happy that Swindon is home- or at least, I'm happy that I have a home, and it has to be in Swindon cos of the husband- I miss the beaches of Northumberland with a passion. These were taken on Bamburgh (very near Stag Rocks, for them what know it), where I jumped over the waves, and rockpooled, and generally acted like a nine year old kid. It was heaven.

Monday, 6 April 2009

New skills

It's been a week here for learning lots of new stuff. Whilst picnicking with Rachel from the comments (I love being able to say that, it makes me feel like the Yarn Harlot. I wish she had a blog, though) Skye took possession of the camera. We had pictures of sheep, more pictures of sheep, and even more pictures of sheep. We had pictures of fuzzy baby hair, and a million trillion pictures of other people's children. It's all good. I know the baby is no longer a baby, and has this whole Jim Morrison thing going with his hairdo, but bear with me, please. And I am unbelievably impressed with the total lack of headlessness and leglessness of said animals, and the fact that she has less camera shake than me. Oh yes, the girl has talent. Jenn, that's the Uffington White Horse you can see behind the sheep.

Next, for your delectation, we have the rainbow hexagon crochet thingummy, which hopefully will become big enough to be a cushion cover. It's wonky, yes, and exceptionally imperfect, but I like it. The directions came from Attic 24, my current favourite source of lifestyle pronography- which is, if I'm honest, at least 90% related to the fact that her children are in school full time. I am looking forward to the days when I get time to play with kids and knit and spin and clean and I haven't have to do everything all at once. This was destined for the study at the new house, but DH has just declared his intention to put his lightsabers in there and I'm not honestly convinced that high-tech futuristic weaponry and handhooked wonkiness are a natural combination- though they are both pretty colours. What do you think?
And finally, the world's heaviest easter egg- maybe. This beauty was loitering in Sue Ryder yesterday, and we swept her up and brought her home with me. Isn't she lovely?

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Pastures New

In a bit of a rush and a bit of a hurry, a new home may be heading our way. After spending many months detesting our chunk of Swindon, a spot of criminal damage (thankfully, not to us), some unpleasant incidents with my kids and the locals, we started looking around to find the way out of here, and things have been much easier than we anticipated. With some help from my mum, a bank that is paying less than 0.5% on one of her savings accounts (thanks, Barclays. If you'd offered decent customer service, none of this would be happening. I seriously, seriously owe you one. They quoted us a stupidly high interest rate for the mortgage as well, which is the ironic thing) we're on our way onto the home ownership ladder. And frankly, it's terrifying.

I love the house so much, though. It reminds me of one of my favourite places in the world, Mackintosh's Hill House up in Scotland, with the way they've placed the windows. The stairs have a fantastic twist- a full 180 degree turn- and look like something out of an Agatha Christie novel, and the living room has- get this- BOTH a bay window and french windows opening into the garden. Which is huge, at least by the standards of a new build in 21st century Britain. Oh, I love this house so much, I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that nothing goes wrong. If things continue at this speed, we might be exchanging contracts before Easter and in shortly after.

And in other news, my sons' handwriting is now considerably more legible than when I last posted. There's hope for them yet :) Even more shocking- well, that's another post. I'm crocheting.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Well, what goes around comes around...

Ironically the next thing in my life after my Big Revelation was parents evening, and this time it was brutal. My oldest child is making some poor choices. He isn't bringing his homework home from school, and he isn't taking it back to school. In lessons, he's gazing out of the window or wool-gathering instead of just biting the bullet and getting on with things. His English teacher is exasperated, his maths teacher is just fed up- because certainly in maths, he really can do it. He just isn't. In literacy we have no idea how much he can write, because he isn't trying- to put this in perspective, he's at the same level of the national curriculum now as he was three years ago. Something's going on.

In case this helps anyone in the same situation, we've taken drastic action. All pocket money has been cancelled and is being held in trust until further notice. A written application to the board is all that's required to unlock funds for any one purchase- a minimum of fifty words. As Isaac is also struggling in literacy, we're doing the same thing for him. To do fun things at the weekend, all that's needed is 100 words planning a family outing. No ifs, no buts,no arguments. If they suggest we take a 13mo paintballing we'll find a way around it. The money is set aside. It's down to them now.
And then, of course, Alex came up with the brilliant idea of a sponsored silence for Red Nose Day. The things he couldn't say, he'd write. It hasn't dawned on him yet, but it struck me early on in the process that this could get him past the anti-write. I'm anticipating that today is going to be expensive (there's £50 to comic relief at stake) but fun. Let's hope so.

Saturday, 28 February 2009


With today being the 1st of March, it seems like a most excellent day for Resolve and Resolutions. It's been a tough week emotionally here at Chez Chaos, for many reasons, but I've come out of it with some deeper understanding of myself.

I lost- well, you can argue it's been more than half of my life- barely functioning due to depression. I've never actually allowed myself to acknowledge that depression profoundly and deeply influences who I am. For most of the time, I am mildly dysfunctional and would rather sit on the sofa than get on with life and live it. I'll forget things, get it wrong, be unable to cope with a problem or a crisis. Often, the depression will take a minor problem- like money- to a huge, insurmountable crisis. Sometimes, however, things get so bad that self-abuse starts creeping in- neglecting myself or overeating.

Critically, my teenage depression has had a legacy on my education. I made it through school with decent results, but that wasn't because I worked or learnt anything. That's because I'm a bright girl with an outstanding memory, I can write a decent essay and I can cram when I have to and I'm told to. When I'm faced with self-directed learning- like at university, like now, with my entry-level OU course- I don't have the skills I need to succeed. I didn't learn them. And the old black dog of depression, soaking up all my time way back then in my teenage years is a large part of the reason WHY I didn't learn the skills that mattered. If education is, in fact, a whole of life process then the end exam results are not what matters. What matters is that you learn how to learn, a lesson that will carry you throughout your life, and if this is what counts then I failed. There's some pretty hefty lessons in there for me as a parent as well, feel free to extrapolate and discuss if you wish.

I have a plan in place for how to deal with this, but that isn't what's most important. For me, it feels like I need to acknowledge this, acknowledge the huge impact that depression has had on my life in order to be able to move on and past it. It doesn't matter what other 31 year olds are doing, for I am me and my experiences are my own. I have resolution, in and of myself. It feels good.

Oh,and if you're reading, Rachel, thankyou.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

The Mothers Day Project.

There are many things I hadn't expected to think or to feel as I stitched the name of Jessica Ann Ellis on to a simple piece of fabric yesterday for the Mothers Day Project. As I worked the stitches that I haven't done in several years now, I hadn't expected my mind to wander back to primary school, or to wonder whether Jessica was taught cross-stitch at school. My mind spontaneously wandered even further back, to antique samplers worked with the names of anonymous women long gone and long forgotten. My daughter climbed on my lap and asked to help, pushed the needle through for me whilst her brothers watched Tom and Jerry cartoons. At one chilling point, she looked at the screen and said "he's dead now" and I did not understand that she was talking about the TV. Death isn't real when you're 3. When you're 31, often it's very vague too.

After I finished my stitching and wondering who this stranger was, I turned to the computer and what I read there is heartbreaking. Jessica hadn't had time to become a mother yet, she was only 24 when she died- the same age as my baby cousin. She had skills and talents I've never had- she was an athlete, loved hunting and fishing with her family and had trained as an army medic. She was stationed in Baghdad when she died working as a medic with a team of engineers. She saved lives, literally, and personally, not just as a member of the armed forces. Her hands meant that some of her colleagues made it home safely.
I wonder how her life would have taken shape, whether she'd have met someone as special to her as my husband is, have kids of her own. I wonder if she'd have grown into her own skin in her late 20s and early 30s, the way I did and so many of my friends have, or whether her job gave her that gift of self-acceptance already. She sounds like one of the girls. One of the lads. A heck of a lady. The first comment here made me think.
I want to add something profound and meaningful here, like "let her death not be in vain" or something along those lines, but the truth is that it would be singularly meaningless. She's never going home to her family, and there are so many other families grieving right now as a result of this senseless war. I just don't have the words to express my anger and grief at the futility of it all. No more, never more.

Saturday, 21 February 2009





Oranges and yellows aren't normally my favourite colours, but I love these. A splash of cheerfulness in the middle of a sea of mud.
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Thursday, 19 February 2009

Half term means wind, and sludge, as the last of winter vanished and left us with the dim prospect that spring might happen one day soon. So we did the only thing you possibly can do at a time like this, and headed for the coast. We got wet, and windy, and a bit wetter, and a little bit windier. We discovered that sand doesn't taste good, even if you are only a year old, but the seaquarium at Weston does suprisingly good french fries. We painted in the sand, and made ginormous footprints, and rode on the poor minimum wage donkeys. These beasts, they have one heck of an attitude. I know donkeys have a reputation anyhow, but there was a real air of chain-smoking rebellion about this lot. They WERE the donkey equivalent of the Tesco cashiers who can't be bothered to interrupt their private conversations to remove a couple of hundred quid from your wallet for the monthly shop. But they made the kids happy, and for the rest of the day they galloped up and down shouting "carrots, carrots, carrots" and giggling wildly- this being, you understand, the verbal command necessary to increase productivity. Perhaps someone should tell Messrs Brown and Obama?

Wednesday, 11 February 2009


I've been thinking a lot about textures at the moment- my knitting basket shown above has an eclectic and unusual mix of blends in there at the moment. There's the cashmere of the Wabenschal, the itchy, scratchy, earthy feel of the mystery yarn from the charity shop, a litle crochet cotton all piled onto the banana fibre bowl, balanced on the polished rosewood veneer. My needles are wood, bamboo, metal- I love how sensual this craft is.
Outside, too, texture is everything. Every footstep is critical, landing safely on the crunch of snow, the squish of grass or mud or the stomp of tarmac. A patch of ice is likely to send me tumbling, yet again, to the ground. In the kitchen, I have a gloopy pulp of orange juice and pith, waiting for the magic of heat and sugar to become marmelade. The stickiness that is a boy and a banana.

I have two major works in progress. A simple bag for myself, where the addition of some friction, the slide of soap, the heat of water will take the hairy yarn down to a thick, solid, dense fabric. Simple magic, especially when done with a washing machine, but I never cease to be amazed. The other, of course, is lace- where a pattern is created with a simple sequence of increases and decreases. Simplicity itself, but fun and fulfilling.

What about you? What are you working on?

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Sunday, 8 February 2009

River's Rainbow Gansey

Well, several months after I finally started it, River's gansey is completed, buttons and all. It's knitted from chain-plied handspun yarn from a roving from HandPaintedYarn, and I think I used about 220g here- and the purple is BFL aran from Jeni at Fyberspates. And I love it. If it isn't the first project from my handspun i've finished, it's certainly one of the first, and the colours, the way it sits together, just work for me. It's an extremely snug jumper for a cuddly little lad.
The pattern is f.pea's Organic Guernsey, which River was wearing in a different incarnation a whole year ago, and I love this version as much as I did that one. I used the larger measurements, and it knits at a more generous gauge, and so it fits the boy pretty well.
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One of the things on my new, improved domestic management schedule is to bake on Sundays, so that we have cakes and biscuits in for lunchboxes throughout the weeks, and as I swept a pair of doughnut pans off the shelves in Lidl the week before Christmas, I have been itching for a chance to use them. Therefore, Sunday morning this week was taken up with a batch of these beauties, which are, frankly, simple enough that a child of 3 can make them with minimal help from adults.

The recipe:
200mls milk
2 eggs
250g self-raising flour (or plain flour pimped with baking powder. I'd probably use two scant teaspoons here, as I think mine were somewhat over-risen.)
150g sugar. Reasonably, you could take this down to 100g or possibly even less, especially if you're icing them.
1 tablespoon oil.
Pinch of salt

Employ the kitchen mixer of your choice (in my case, the 3yo) to combine all ingredients together. Use a spoon, as the batter should be slightly too thick to whisk effectively- it's definitely a dropping batter rather than a pouring batter. This batter should make enough for a tablespoon in each divit, which will be plenty. Honest. Less really IS more here. Bake for 10 minutes until firm all the way through and remove from the oven. If necessary, replace the holes in the doughnuts with the handle of a wooden spoon.

We poured a glace icing over the top, but I don't recommend it- just dunk it instead and for the maximum amount of added crap possible, dunk the iced side into sprinkles. Clean the kitchen whilst the icing sets (with both icing sugar and flour involved, there was more white powdery stuff inside than outside today) and then eat. Both good, and very, VERY quick and easy.
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Friday, 6 February 2009

Global Warming? Really?

We're having a snow day. Again.
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Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Blank canvas.

Today is the third snow day. The ground is partially covered in white snow, obscuring the signs of new life underneath, the fresh grass, the budding leaves on the trees, the treacherous bad ice. In many ways, it feels like a metaphor for the new blog, all pristine and crisp and unsullied by human hand.
So, about me. I'm a 31 year old woman living in England. I have four children, no paid employment, a husband and a dog. More about them later, no doubt. I'm a socialist and a feminist, which will probably colour my writing from time to time. Oh, and I like to spend my free time knitting and crafting.
This is not my first blog. The previous installment is at, but these days I'm not feeling sweet and I don't give a damn whether I'm meeting some artificially imposed standard of Attachment Parenting or anything else. I am me. Hear me roar, or purr. I may waddle like a penguin, but that doesn't mean I don't have a beak that will rip you open if I'm in the mood. I can be whoever and whatever I want to be. This journey is not yet over.