Friday, March 27, 2009

More British wildlife

We'll begin with rooks. These are fascinating birds to me. It took me forever to figure out the difference between a rook, a jackdaw, a raven, and a crow. To be honest, I'm still not 100% at first glance (except for the jackdaw). But I do know that the birds that make a bunch of racket and big twiggy nests in my yard (In British: Garden) are indeed rooks. Despite their scowling beak and grumpy sounds, they seem to be a very sociable bird. At sunset especially they hang out in their nests and holler and gossip at each other. It sounds like this:

While I was outside, I decided to take a few more pictures to share.
On the left is a tiny little daisy (many thanks to my foot model, Miss Mousie), and on the right, our dear friend, Nettles.

These are English primroses.

And what would a Welsh blog be without a picture of Wales' national flower, the Daffodil.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

and just as I was beginning to lose hope...

I have a weekly knitting group I go to. (Stitch and Bitch is what it's called but I don't call it that because I don't want the children picking up on the word bitch.) Remember in the last post, I mentioned I had some leads on kindred spirits? Well, two of them go to my knitting group. With the exception of this past week, knitting group has an interesting dynamic. All of the women there are either ten years younger or ten years older than me. I've gotten quite attached to two of the women who are ten years older than me.

Another lead on a kindred spirit is this woman who does this sort of mail order cooperative natural foods thing from her house. She is into music, and morris dancing, and healthy living. When we picked up our order from her months ago, she and I just chatted and chatted.

Well, guess who walked into knitting group on Monday? The natural food lady! Also she brought with her a woman who has much in common with me children/parenting wise. Now of course, I can be friends with anyone, but it is nice when parenting values match up. Plus this woman has kids (six kids ranging in ages from 14 months to 20 years!) my kids ages.

So now while I'm full of possible leads on friends. I still have to work at it. You know, follow up on phone calls, respond to emails, just basically show up. While I have resolved to myself that I won't be the only person holding up a friendship anymore (and in doing that have found so much peace!), I still have to do my part. Saturday the natural foods lady is having this open house thing so the Artist and I are going to go over there and help her for a few hours. Provided we are not still sick. (Right now the Artist is very sick and I don't feel so well myself.) I'm also thinking I might see if a few of the group from knitting club would like to come over for dinner.

Friendship isn't just something a person is good at or not good at. Anyone can be a friend. Anyone can be a good friend. It just takes the minimum of effort and it is worth it. I just have to remember that in the beginning a friendship takes a little bit more tending to make it grow.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Building Community is a skill not a talent.

This is my mantra lately. I know it's true. I know that finding friends and community isn't just something someone is good at or not good at. I know that as long as I keep an open mind and keep putting myself out there, I'll find what I'm looking for.

Really, though, I've already got a bunch of leads on possible kindred spirits and we are already involved with a home ed group.

The thing getting in my way now is illness. Right now I'm the main one who is sick and honestly I know it's a little bit my own doing. I knew right when I started to feel bad I needed a day of rest. Instead, I decided to be a martyr and take an afternoon here, an hour there instead. And so, over two weeks later I am still sick only this time I have either mastitis or a plugged duct. Both girls are overcoming pinkeye (which they got from me). All this physical illness makes me have little flare ups of depression (which is also a physical illness). All of this gets in the way of my community building.

I still maintain that it is a skill not a talent and will be posting my thoughts on that later, but for now I have a naked two year old (screaming at me), half naked baby, and a boy telling me how hungry he is. (I know it's crazy, but if you don't eat lunch, you will be hungry later. Plus in a house full of food, seems like a person could avoid being hungry.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Yesterday was almost perfect...

Well, despite the fact that we keep getting sick. It's currently my turn and I have this cold thing including a sore throat and now pinkeye (in both eyes. Nice, huh?)

Anyway, yesterday (Sunday), I woke up not feeling well, but not feeling like I'd been hit by a Mack Truck (Lorrie to you Brits). I laid around on the couch watching something mindless on the television, Arthur maybe? with the boys. Finally I woke up, ate some breakfast, had a latte (which I now have with No sugar, down from a whopping 3 heaping tablespoons!), a shower, and got dressed. I stepped outside with the 3 bigger kids and wandered around the yard (garden in British) only to discover....Nettles! I found so many of them growing on the hillside. I grabbed a pair of thick rubber gloves from the garage (left by the owners of this house) and a stainless steel bowl and began picking. Eventually the Explorer joined me sporting gloves that were at least 5 sizes too big for him. (Note: British nettles are fierce. You must wear gloves that fit.) He was stung by the nettles as was I through my pants (trousers in British, pants=underwear in British). We meandered down to the creek finding more and more nettles. The Artist and I walked down the creek a bit, explored the ruins of an old (probably as old as the house which was built in the 1600s) mill and talked. The tiny Goddess followed for a bit but then just stood on the banks of the creek (stream in British) and said, "Mama, come back."

Afterwards, I played soccer (football in British) with the boys for a little bit while the Tiny Goddess, the Lord of Sound, and Miss Mousie watched and cheered. Then the boys next door came over and took my place in the game. I went in to process my nettles and beat my house into submission. I spent two hours deep cleaning and tidying up the kitchen while listening to podcasts of The Splendid Table. (Because that is what I do on Sunday afternoon.)

We had Mexican for dinner (many of the people we've met here have never had tacos! Can you imagine?) and after dinner I grabbed my ipod and went for a walk.

On my walk (listening to a podcast of CastOn and the gossiping rooks above me), I passed an 11th century church. I walked slowly respectfully through the graveyard pausing to read tombstones and smell primroses. Then I came to the sea and a rocky beach. I spent a good bit of time just breathing, watching, and wondering how I survived four years of living inland (good friends and loving community perhaps?). It was hard to turn my back on the ocean, but I knew I needed to get home. I saw a particularly inviting forest path roughly in the direction of my house just past the church and so I took it. Holy cow! It was a long and muddy path! It spit me out of the forest in someone's back yard at the end of one of these confusing one lane country roads with tall hedgerows on either side. I walked briskly and decided that it would be fine, I was not Lost per say, I just needed to get my bearings. I passed a bunch of horses who all stared at the crazy American (I get lots of stares like that.) Finally the road ended and I saw the back side of a sign. I had a feeling my home was the other way, but I've been fooled like that before so I walked up to the sign only to discover that I was a 1/2 mile on the other side of my house! So briskly I walked home laughing all the way.

(I do plan on taking that path again, but with a flashlight next time.)

When I came home, the Lord of Sound and I watched Star Trek as the boys played Star Wars on the living room floor and the little girls slept.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Learning to count in a new language....

I am considering teaching the Explorer, who is still struggling to count to twenty (those teens are confusing) to count in Welsh. In Welsh the counting basically is 10 as 1 ten and zero, 11 as 1 ten and 1, twenty-one as two ten and one, ect.

What I wonder is if other people who have children struggling with learning differences (aka "learning disabilities" how I hate that term) have tried something like this.

I'll have to learn myself first, and I have neighbors who have volunteered to help me with pronunciation (my Welsh pronunciation is Terrible!).

Have any of y'all heard of something like this? Either changing the names of numbers or something like this?

We'll continue to work on the English counting but right now I feel like it's holding him back.

More later....

Sunday, March 1, 2009

St. David's Day

Today is St. David's Day. It's a huge deal here apparently. We went to the St. David's Day parade in Wales. Now, having attended some large parades in my time (San Diego's Pride Parade comes to mind), I expected this one to be huge. It wasn't. No floats, but lots of excitement and pride all the same. (To be honest, the little spring blossom parade in Nashville, Indiana was bigger.) After everyone who was a part of the parade marched by, the crowd sort of followed them from the city center down to Cardiff Bay. It was a looong walk, even though just a mile. I was wearing the baby the whole time and she gets heavier every day! But, once in Cardiff Bay, we found an ice cream shop with gluten free cones! Since we as a family gave up gluten for lent, we were excited (although I opted for a fat free sugar free Starbucks Latte.) We took the bus back to our car.