We’re Have I Been All This Time…

Longest break I’ve taken in a while…somehow, at the end of a week at the keyboard, it is kinda hard to make time to pop in here.  Silly me.

Weekends have taken on a new measure of quality family life now that our time all together is really limited to breakfast and dinner/bath/stories/bed.  We ALL look forward to those weekends.  Since I last checked in we have had a few adventures.

April was our Scottish Summer this year I think.  So one weekend we took advantage of the delightful weather and strolled along the Fife Coastal Path

with our new friends Tomandsuzie (not to be confused with Tomandclaire) and our wee tots to the Cocoa Tree in Pittenweem.

Then we made some essential modifications to the chicken coop so that the girls could get up and go to bed without our help (esp helpful now that it is light around 4.30am and dark at 10.45pm)…and so that a helpful undergrad could come in and feed them whilst we made our first UK road trip to visit Tomandclaire in Manchester.  During this balmy weekend we managed an outing to the local RSPB reserve…

…and HeatonPark which had the added bonus of a tiny farm and a playground.

The following weekend was the Royal Wedding – and though none of us are particularly royalist in persuasion…there is something kinda lovely about a wedding…so I managed to make a cuppa and turn on the TV for some of the proceedings – though I did have a lot of interference from the easily distractable male members of the family.  We followed up the festivity with our first BBQ of the season – though the weather was not so great then, and has not really picked up since.  Sigh…

Later on we even managed a spot of garden planting.  As per usual, the little herbies are doing great.  But after an unseasonably warm April, May has been so cold that not much else has survived the transfer to the cold little garden patch .  Apart from the fabulous radishes we harvested this week.

The big news of the month was QPR (the Doctor’s football love) were promoted to the Premier League.  Whilst sport is still really something I do not understand…this was an event worth celebrating – with chocolate cake and bubbles!

And the other big news was the big-boy bed.  We took the sides off the cot…and Kaz has pretty much settled into a rhythm of sleeping in his own little space.  We have to lie down by him now to get to sleep…but that usually happens pretty quickly.  He has fallen out several times, and one night I stepped on him in the dark (oops) and another night he fell over all his toys trying to get out the door in the dark…but slowly we have made adaptations and sleep IS happening.  Now onto potty training…

Our final news is the galvanising into action on the house-hunting front.  We have been out most weekends looking for a permanent home.  A frightening and enlightening process.  We think we have narrowed down the area we would like to live in…and this charming village has caught our eye…

…Kaz has so far loved going to see houses, esp when we come across a playground en route

…but it will probably take us most of the summer to find something we are sure about…so no move imminent yet!

So…a big update.  Sorry it was so long…and I was absent for so long…hope to mitigate that in future.  It all got a bit hectic there for a while.  Happiness to you and thanks to those of you who kept popping in to see how we are doing.  I will try to be back here more often in future!

Chariots 2011

Two weeks ago the doctor joined a host of mainly white-clad runners in the inaugural St Andrews Chariots Race.  Based on the moving opening scenes of that memorable 80’s saga, Chariots of Fire, the race was a charity event for Sue Ryder Care.

It was our first big community event and we loved the sense of occaision on the beautiful West Sands Beach.  It started with a 1-mile kids race that drew a crowd and had some charming little competitors.  Including two tiny people who ran with their parents.  Go little teenies!

Kazuo did find the whole event a bit overwhelming – the noise, the crowds were all a bit much and he looked like this much of the morning:

But a little bit of time eating snacks in the dunes while Dada was racing seemed to bring it all into persepective. He was very happy to cheer Dada towards the finish line…

…and after making a very good time, the Doctor was also pleased to have been involved.

The event was put together in a very efficient manner and it seemed everyone had a great day.

Making Ourselves at Home

The weekend has finally arrived.  It is time for a new look here at ‘Not Working’… As I mentioned earlier in the week, on Monday I enter the potentially crazy world of workinginsideandoutsidethehome.  I am shying away from saying I am going back to work, since it is abundantly clear to me…and most people who think about it for a few minutes…that there are all kinds of work done in our world – and not all are remunerated.  But from Monday, I shall be remunerated for some tasks I do, and I will be remunerating someone else to do the many happy tasks I have been doing with Kazuo for the past two years.

Akira and I will be renegotiating the roles we play in keeping the home running, though we have managed to develop a fairly smooth routine, so I am hopeful that there will not be too many teething problems there.  Kazuo will make perhaps the biggest adjustment – as he settles into a life of full time nursery school.

As I reflect back on what I have felt about ‘working’ over the past few years – and look forward to more time here in the blog (yayy for lunchbreaks!) I came to the conclusion that I was working hard to make us all feel at home, wherever we happened to be.  So even while I return to the paid workforce, this need to feel at home…and help my family and our critters feel at home…is perhaps the guiding narrative of our life together. (See more on this on the Where I Find Myself Page.)

This weekend I have bustled about trying to get our house in order to weather the changes ahead.  I finally managed to find some secondhand cubbies for the entrance hall, and managed to wrestle some control over the chaos that had developed in that little vestibule.  Now the coats hang in the corner, the boots have a space, and the wee guy can sit down for wellies/shoes/slippers and not stand up caked in mud (or latterly, chicken poop – ewwww!):

We’ve planted a tiny row of garlic in our little plot – and now to wait for the spring for the other plantings:

And we installed a compost bin and made a trip to the recycling centre – showing the little one the delights of separating out our waste:

Here we are then…making ourselves at home.  I hope you will too.

Eggs!

Our girls survived the night and a really frosty, sleety morning.  We are making constant modifications to their world and ours to accomodate them and we hope that poor little Naynaynay Number Four will last the distance, she is looking very much the bottom of the newly established pecking order.

But the big news this morning was: Eggs!  Here is Kazuo proudly displaying the first one that we found after breakfast:

He’d never held an egg before, so sadly, it came to a bit of a sorry end at the close of this photo shoot.

But by the time I returned from the shopping at lunchtime, there was another warm little brown egg in the nest box.  Well done girls!

Our Girls

Today we brought our rescued ex-battery hens home from the farm on which they spent the first few intensive-laying months of their lives.  We found them through the wonderful work of the British Hen Welfare Trust.

These are their first few moments being settled into their new house Akira assembled for them a couple of weeks ago:

They are scrawny girls who have never walked anywhere in their little lives, so they will mostly stay in and around the coop for a couple of weeks while they get strong on the special feed we are giving them.  Hopefully they will also re-feather fairly soon too. Although we will be away on a daily basis, we are aiming to let them learn to roam about the yard as often as possible. One poor chook is very much on the plucked-chicken side of things, and seems blind in one eye – so we hope she will manage to thrive under our novice husbandry.

Kazuo has been SOOO excited about the ‘ex-battery-clucks’ for some weeks now – so it was fantastic to give him some soon-to-be-cuddly new friends.   Since dogs and cats and hamsters and gerbils are off the agenda due to allergies, these are our pets.  They will be known as Mrs Cluck, Feathery Frou Frou, Henny Hen Hen and Naynaynay Number Four.  Hopefully they will also reward us with a few eggy treats in the weeks to come.

Kazuo had trouble containing his enthusiasm once the chicks were in their run.  It may take some time for him to realise that they are a little wary of his happy interrogations.  But two brave  girls ventured out of the run not long after their arrival (they were more sturdy than I expected, which was quite amazing given their previous lifestyle) and although one was soon scared back inside by Kaz, the other had a curious little exploration of the yard before bedtime.

Welcome girls, we are glad you have come!

Two Years

Our wee guy is two today.  Two lovely long years of learning (in a very ad hoc manner at times) how to be parents…and watching him go from being a bit rubbish and gurgly and endearing and sometimes a little terrifyingly needy and so so cuddly and incredible to really quite entertaining and capable and still kinda needy but wonderfully affectionate and articulate and hilarious.  All those bones and muscles and neurons and just everything that makes up his unique but also commonly human arrangement of qualities have been constantly rearranging and growing and becoming in quite the most fascinating way.  Of course we all think our kids are amazing and incredible…and the first ones are quite the little preoccupying experiment that keep on providing astonishment…but I have to admit that I am rather smitten still…and loving having this wee person around. Kazuo, we think you are great, happy birthday little one!

Brand New

Six Months

One Year

Eighteen Months

Two Years

Tomandclaire

On the weekend we had our friends Tom and Claire, who live in Manchester, come and stay.  The December weather was an initial deterrent to their pre-Christmas visit plans, so it was wonderful that they could finally join us.  Though of course we would love them to be able to pop in every weekend!  However, it did give us a chance to try out some long awaited treats, and to explore some now familiar haunts with friends.  And Kazuo had a lovely time with his new friends Tomandclaire.  By the end of the weekend he seemed to be able to tell them apart…though it was a little touch and go at times.

Saturday we took to the sands and tried out the new stunt kite Nana had sent Dada for Christmas.  Thank goodness for Tom.  Mama and Dada would never have gotten it off the ground alone and kept Kaz amused/alive.  It is a two-hand challenge and I think might take a long while for us to master it…but lots of laughs – and plenty of friendly competition – were derived from this chilly morning’s escapades.

For lunch we tried out Nahm Jim (famous for making it through several contests set by Gordon Ramsay.) The curries we tried were very tasty…and the service pretty slick and accommodating.

Kaz and I retired for the afternoon nap period and the others ventured out to Crail for a spot of fossil-fossicking and rock-clambering.  Seems it was a pretty happy outing…

…followed up by Anstruther Fish Bar tea, and our introduction to Carcassonne – the board game, not the town. I think it might just have to be on my latest wishlist, we got hooked!

We woke to ANOTHER dumping of snow and the fields were just right for a little morning trek.

We were back to this again for a while…

…but Tomandclaire managed to depart after lunch and got out of our frosty wonderland safely. It was wonderful to have such great company and one of the delights of being back in the UK.  You are all welcome any time!

It’s beginning to look a lot like…

Our driveway – like many others in these parts –  has turned into an ice rink, and so the treacherous journey to the road is perhaps the worst part of any outing at the moment.  This did slow our efforts to bring Christmas to the house this year…we set out and abandoned the tree-purchasing venture a couple of times in the past weekend.  But Sunday morning, we managed to find a flat-access farm shop with some real trees still for sale.  Amazingly, it bundled neatly into the back of the Honda, and Kazuo poked at the needles all the way home.

It was good that we avoided the tree issue last year when he was just getting walking (Christmas with the O’Connors in London mitigated the need for a tree at home) and this year he was totally excited about the project.  He helped Mama choose places for decorations and was quite interested in the little lights and the sparkly tinsel.

He is not a big fan of anything with a human face right now (dolls are COMPLETELY out).  So having a few little angel decorations in strategic places, combined with his discovery in the car that pine needles “make you go ouch”, has meant he is pretty much in love with the tree, but not that keen to get too close!

After a happy afternoon of decorating, the doctor and I finally got to sit down in the lounge with some proto-mince pies and a cuppa.  It is looking and sounding and smelling a lot like Christmas around here now.  The snow is set to roll in again this coming weekend though…so we hope that we will not be eating turkey alone when the actual day comes…

Winter Comes a Little Early

As predicted on Wednesday, it did take all week for real snow to fall.  Friday night we had a proper dusting, though it took until Sunday – after nearly 12 hours of blizzardy conditions – for our lawn to be completely covered, that grass is getting long!

Although we had some great snowfalls last winter in the Lou, it was often just too cold for snow.  And the wee one only really got walking by the start of February, so we stayed indoors practising that skill until the weather improved.  So this weekend was his first real taste of snow. Like the sand, he was not really sure what to make of it at first.

This confusion may have been somewhat extended by the frocliky teasing of his Dada, who celebrated the moment by tossing snowballs at his tiny progeny’s legs…

We discovered the tracks of a local fox as we trekked down the driveway to see the condition of the road.

The drive was also peppered with pheasant and partridge tracks, and we saw lots of tiny birdy feet marks around the feeder we set up last week.

Later that morning we ventured into St Andrews, which saw rather less snow, and had a wander in the courtyard of St Salvator’s Chapel. We also had a cuppa and a little play in the Byre Theatre, which is fast becoming a favourite haunt as it is wonderfully child-friendly.

On the way home I scored a teeny rattan stool for Kazuo at the local Recycling Centre…I am hoping for more freegan bargains like that as we get to know our way around the community.

The next morning,  Dada got his comeuppance while horsing about in the deeper snow of the bottom of the garden…Kaz thought Dada’s tumbles in the snow were hilarious.

Figuring out how to ambulate in knee-deep snow was another skill altogether.  Something Mama had to help with…


…though it was worth the giggles that ensued when I let go for a minute…

The snow continues on today, and probably for the rest of the week, which is very early for the UK, and perhaps the most comprehensive dumping I have ever witnessed.  It is rather beautiful, but somewhat inconvenient – driving is kinda hazardous, the car got totally stuck in the icy driveway this evening, and the exchange of the faulty gas tank that should have been happened a month ago and was delayed until today has been indefinitely cancelled…and no promise when they will be able to fill up our unusually empty tank (kept low while waiting for the tank exchange) due to the adverse weather conditions.  We are now on emergency heating and hot water rations in case it takes them more than a week!

Akira managed to chug slowly into work in the car this morning, so Kazuo and I ventured out in a break in the snow and made tiny Mr Snowman, who is nearly covered again now!

After a skype chat to Nana, we decided to make a tent in the kitchen (c0mplete with teddies, books, the new stool and some fake sandwiches) and we have had a lovely snowed-in Monday morning.  I do hope I can come up with a few new tricks to get us through what might be a long week of keeping out of the cold.

Happy Early Winter to you All…

Beach Learnin’

They say every day is a school day…and so it used to be for me…now I am seeing more and more that it certainly is for our wee guy.  Each day he seems to delight in a new idea, a new word, a new turn of phrase (today – ‘that’s more like it’) or a new activity…sometimes all those things almost simultaneously.

Last weekend we explored the marvellous paradise that is Tentsmuir Forest and it made me feel, like so much of this place makes me feel, that we were in New Zealand again.  In fact, it is strikingly like Rabbit Island in Nelson, where we had our wedding photos taken.  Today, we returned.  It was still frosty around the edges of the mossy dunes when we trudged across to the beach, and before long our fingers were icy cold.  But that did not stop the little guy revelling in making sandcastles.

This was his first time.  In typical toddler fashion, the most joy was found in destruction.

But he was keen to help Dada construct more…and more…and more.

And the sea did some great destruction too.

Giggly joy was had in the backpack as we strolled along the sands, though we are yet to make it out to the headland to find the seals.  But we did see flocks of migrating birds overhead.

We finished the morning off at the brand new Balgove Larder stocking up on a little more farmy goodness and sampling their smoked haddock fishcakes and sausage casserole.  Mmmmmm.