Monday, January 31

Performance Art in the Shepherd Household

Gwen locked herself in her bedroom earlier while I was reading Molly her bedtime stories. She was gone for a long time and was awfully quiet. I was given strict instructions not to come in because "I am making a kind of stage performance."

She shouted through the door a little later and announced that the stage performance was ready. I opened the door to find this intricate display of lined-up dolls, teddies and cushions, The Snail in the middle of it all brushing her hair (she has recently discovered conditioner).

I wonder why she lay Fireman Sam horizontally?

In other snail-related news...

She found a book in her cousin's house called 'God Made Me'. She asked me what the book was called, I told her. She declared: "Who's God? Dog Made ME." Spot the heathen child.

She has also made up her first joke.

What do you call a man with a bag on his head?

There's definitely some sort of surrealist streak to the Gwenster.

Sunday, January 30

A Manifesto for Myself

I'm feeling a bit lost at the moment, having huge trouble balancing the work me with the mama me, switching between the two for half of each week. I'm sick of trying to do everything, and doing everything badly. Sick of feeling fat and unhealthy. Sick of worrying about money. Sick of thinking 'what if'. Sick of feeling guilty about everything all the time.

Feminism sure did wonderful thing for women, but how did we end up in a place where we are expected to work, and raise children, and be a domestic goddess and look bloomin' gorgeous too? Do you think that was what Emmeline Pankhurst would've wanted?

The two 'me's seem to be so very different and I love both aspects of my life. I'm so lucky to have so much time at home. I'm so lucky to have a part-time job that I really like. But in all the trying to have it all, I've lost myself in there somewhere.

And so, to keep me focused, a little manifesto for myself, to remind me of what's important in life - to me, anyway.

I want to:

glow with health and vitality. read. photograph. be by the sea. work as little as possible. grow vegetables. shop locally. parent gently. love unconditionally. be kind. sing unembarassedly. write poetry. be a good friend to a few special people. cook. stop worrying. be generous. create more. buy second hand. keep it simple. love. feel alive. appreciate what I have. drink tea.

That is my manifesto for me.

Wednesday, January 26

All the Words Molly Knows

Molly's had a word explosion. Here are all the things she can say.

Mama, Daddy, Nana, Bampa, Blod, shush Blod, cat, dog, horse, fish, head, fluff, zip, foot, sit down, get down, bounce, nakey (while naked and patting her belly), nice, jump, biscuit, apple, cheese, Babybel, car, bus, bird, shoes, sock, hat, kiss, hug, drink, fork, milk, cake, nose, dryer (hairdryer), kick, slide, ball, bed, eyes, bear, book, bathroom, brush, (ba)nana, egg, bowl, up, down, tractor, duck, sheep, pig, hippo, owl, knees, 'oghurt, me, bath, wipe, coat, tights, one-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight-nine-ten, chick, bike, Esss Esss (Yes), hide, phone, hot, boo, good girl, peas, please, park, go-go-go, tea, door, close, more, bye bye, night night, poo.

And my personal favourite, said in a very Valleys accent, is a great big Hiyaaaa.

Oh, and shit.

She still can't quite get to grips with Gwen, who remains 'Eh' instead.

Here's what Gwen was saying at the same age.

Sunday, January 23

Stolen Moments

My life, it could be fair to say, is slightly bonkers: two very small children, two naughty naughty pets, a house that's still mid-renovation, a part-time job three days a week, a fair bit of freelancing, studying for my antenatal teaching (suprisingly academic and tons of work) and sometimes photography modules too.

And I love it, I love it all, but where to fit in all the other things I love - like photography, friends, reading, newspapers, blogging, baking, walking, running, swimming, cinema, gardening, my husband...? And the things I want to do more of, like knitting and sewing and writing poetry and cycling and growing more veg and learning an instrument and a language too.

Well, I've found a solution - stolen moments. Over the last few months, I've created these miniscule pockets of me-time, grabbing them when I can and squeezing every last second out of them.

A dog walk at dawn just before everyone wakes, penning a poem while the girls eat their tea, standing in the pantry with a square of chocolate melting in my mouth, a flask of Roibos on the bench in the park when the children play, a couple of chapters when they're having chill-out time, carrying a camera everywhere I go.

And on work days, the endless possibilities - a walk in the park, a coffee with a friend, the 20-minute train journey with a really good book, a midday date with my Nikon, browsing the bookshop, wandering round the museum, a trip to the library, choir practice, lunchtime concerts... I'll steal a moment whenever I can.

One day I'll have all the time in the world for snapping photos and making clothes and growing veg and reading all the books I can absorb. But for now, I'll take my lovely crazy life and my precious stolen moments.