Thursday, 8 March 2012

Slow living experiment: Days 2 & 3

Drool in action

Such a good start yesterday. So good in fact, that my "high" continued until 2.40am when the battery in the laptop reached 1% power and I called it a day. Woken at 8.10am (still WAAY too early if it's before 9am) by babies needing nappies and milk. Dragged myself into the shower, Noah happily eating a toilet roll tube and watching from his baby chair, Charlie trying on more outfits than me getting dressed for a night out.
Breakfast was simple: Bread from Charlie's mini loaf, with butter and Bonne Maman Raspberry Conserve (to give it it's full title), A huge pint of tea for me, undrunk decaf tea for Charlie. A bread roll for Noah to gnaw.
We played, oh how we played. I managed a lot of it from the sofa, as I do when I'm really tired. We crafted, tried origami, played more marbles, coloured, read books, built a fort (I built it, Charlie had no interest in it) When I say "I built a fort" I actually mean "I threw a double bedsheet over the dining room table". It took more energy than you may think; I had to clear off the breakfast things first. He still didn't give a hoot. I checked the time on my phone at one stage, big mistake, it was only 10.20am. Barry not due home until 6.30pm. Don't do the maths, you don't want to know how many hours are left.

I did laundry, Noah arching back out of the wrap sling, threatening to fall on his head while eating a toothbrush, while I hung out clothes. Put away laundry, read books in the boy's bedroom (that's a misnomer if there ever was one), played with a wooden train, talked about Lego, ate a sweet or two that we found.
Then I started thinking about lunch. Put yesterday's spare pizza into the oven to heat. Tidied the kitchen a bit, watered Mr. Beans, ate lunch, looked at clock, 12.20pm.
Wondered how the hell I was going to fill the rest of the day.

Turned on the tv to watch the last half of "The Muppets Take Manhattan", recorded in December. Watched it, feeding Noah, eating biscuits. Felt much more capable now. Sugar and TV. Comfort. Strength.
Finished Muppets, watched a bit of "Mountain Gorillas", first shot was of them humping. Gave it the benefit of the doubt, and were absorbed in it for about 20 minutes. Silverback gorillas in Diane Fossey territory. Bit boring. We turned it off.
Stuck house numbers back on front door, with All-Purpose glue. Been meaning to do that since about October. Lost one for a while, drove around with it in car, then had it at the bottom of my handbag for a few weeks (is anyone still reading this, honestly, how boring is this post!) Now our door is finished. Big feeling of satisfaction, disproportionate to size of task.
Did more laundry, left Noah in kitchen alone in his baby walker, eating fridge magnets.
Oh! One interesting thing: when he's playing with marbles, I say "All gone" and he spits out the one or two from his mouth. Pretty cool, after only a couple of days with them. None in the nappy yet.
He did a sign for "more" which is only his third or fourth sign so far ("milk" at about 2 weeks, "poo poo" at about 4 months, "light" at 7 months and now "more" at 8 months) It was around 8 months that Charlie started signing too, picking up a new one or two each day, and inventing them himself.

Looked at the clock again and it was about 3pm, started dinner - using leftover tomato sauce from pizzas yesterday (tomato puree, tins of tomatoes, oregano, onion and garlic) Cooked lentils, baked potatoes, fried mushrooms (Charlie stirring on his stool, no, not wriggling with a poo, standing on his step stool stirring mushrooms). Left it all for a while as realised I was about 2 hours ahead of myself.
Watched Mary Poppins. Wondered at the tombstones that were Dick Van Dyke's teeth, and mused was he forced to get dentures when his career took off. Enjoyed "Step in Time", wow. Watched Charlie tapdance on the sofa while he chewed Juicy Fruit.
Mashed potatoes, grated cheese, assembled shepherd's pie. Cooked it. Stopped cooking it when realised I was still an hour ahead of myself. Cooked it again. Made a pot of decaf tea. Ate bread and butter with Charlie while watching the floating tea scene in Mary Poppins, they mentioned bread and butter, so goes without saying we had to have some too.

Negotiatied around a floor-full of rice crispies all afternoon, after a bright idea for "messy play" turned out to be a pathetic snack for two obviously hungry children, stuffing fistfuls of crispies into their drooly mouths, sitting on the floor, with a mixing bowl full of hairy and fluffy crispies between them. Stale ones too.
Dada was late home. I was boggle-eyed at how mind-nuumbingly boring had been our day. I was annoyed and resigned to the fact that I can't parent without a screen to fill some hours. I had decided to go nowhere today, so we were at home all day, making things a bit harder too.
Bank errands to run, carrot seeds to buy, milk to get, all the little things fell by the wayside, and it was all I could do to keep up with housework, mopping up wee, changing Noah's clothes twice, nappies. Add to that my phone's been drooled on so much the microphone's broken, and nobody's getting my texts, though I'm paying for them.
All in all a bit of a "nothing" day.
Outfit of the week? Hmm. Wee-stained trackie bottoms, wee-stained tops, filthy socks. And there's mashed potato on my bathroom floor.
Goodnight all.

Day 3
This was a half-day at home, followed by an afternoon in the a-zoo. (Don't know where the "a" prefix comes from, I just know that you have to use it whenever referring to the a-zoo, if you're from Dublin. If you're not from Dublin we'll still let you visit, don't get us wrong, but you'll always be a culchie.)
But I digress.
We woke up at about 8.20am. "We" in this instance being Noah. Charlie had enough wakings during the night that he was sound asleep, so I smiled at Noah, can't not when you see his beaming gums, and fed him on and off for about ten minutes. Then I woke Charlie, and we spent the next hour in bed, the heating was off and the room was cold, and I was tired. Charlie played, bounced, chatted, Noah fed, climbed, shouted. I wondered at their energy.
When my stomach rumbles really got bad, and Charlie had nagged enough we all dressed and went downstairs for breakfast.
I made buttermilk pancakes, which we ate with strawberries and chocolate spread. Charlie ate most of the punnet of strawberries while I cooked breakfast, and Noah sat on his fleece in the kitchen, eating fridge magnets. This is getting to be his favourite pastime. He will also turn to lick the fridge, stick his nose in the gap between the fridge and cupboard, and wave magnets in the air. There's lots going on.
I drank coffee. God, am I really typing this?! Is anyone reading this?!
Well, the coffee thing is kind of interesting, so I'll go into it a bit, in case anyone's interested.

I go through phases of drinkin
I must start by saying I love coffee.
I drink tea by default, and can't stomach too much coffee, but I just adore it.
I love the smell, the taste, coffee cake, coffee slices, coffee ice-cream...
Too much coffee makes me lose my temper, get emotional, and heart palpitations.
I go through phases of drinking coffee. From none, just one cup of tea a day, and decaf tea in between, to treating myself to the odd coffee in a cafe, to drinking two coffees a day, to drinking two coffees and two teas a day. That is my limit. The cycle takes about three months from start to finish. At the start, I am "detoxed", healthy, skin is good, in great health. Halfway through I am waking sluggish and needing my caffeine fix. At the end I am totally run-down, sleep-deprived, stressed, and get a cold for about 10 days, necessitating a "detox", only for the cycle to begin again. Sugar goes hand-in-hand with caffeine too, so none at the start; lots of fruit and whole foods, then the sugar cravings begin, and the few biscuits turn into a bar or two of chocolate. It's a comforting cycle, I am fully aware of it. I've developed it over the last few years, I suppose since alcohol and nights out were replaced with nights in breastfeeding. You have to get your kicks somewhere.
At the moment I'm at the end of the "detox" phase, we were all sick, so I detoxed, took my vitamins, ate well, etc. Now I'm introducing coffee, and having the subsequent sugar cravings start. A half a bar here, a whole one there. Max one a day though, for now. It's crazy how predictable it is. I'm going to google it, out of curiosity, but I don't want my writing to be influenced by what I read, I just want to write about my experiences. (i.e. never should "fact" cloud my opinion?! the ultimate narcissistic idea!)

Back to breakfast: I made coffee in my cafetiere-for-one. Try as I might, Barry never succumbed to my caffeine-pushing. I had flirted with the idea of getting an espresso machine for my birthday, thinking of the lovely crema that could be mine in my kitchen, saving me the trouble of ever having to frequent a cafe again. Then I saw the price of them.
So cafetiere it is, until our Lotto win happens.
After breakfast we played, Charlie did a bit of "spot-the-difference-ing", writing and phonics from a comic he got last week. We lost the corresponding stickers to complete some of the activities, this comic is encouraging kids to stick letter stickers to complete words, rather than writing them themselves...
We made brown soda bread. "We" being me, while Charlie entertained himself with his villains. I love that "running out of bread" doesn't have to happen any more. I had too much bread dough slop to fit my 2lb loaf tin (got heavy with the buttermilk) so used the excess to fill Charlie's kiddie bread loaf tin. Well if he wasn't proud as punch to have his own loaf of bread to take care of. He skewered it to check was it done, he turned it out of the tin, knocked on it's base. He proudly showed it to my sister when she called over, and when we left him alone with it for a minute, I came back in to see him digging into it with the full-size bread knife, trying to cut a slice. I nearly died, had forgotten I'd left the knife in there, but calmly suggested I saw him off a finger slice to butter himself. Which he did, and ate it all, then another, then two more when we got home from the a-zoo. If anyone out there wants to make their kid eat better bread, do this, I swear by it.

Back to this morning, we ended up on the bed for nearly an hour (didn't check the clock once, the morning flew by), reading and playing, Noah standing holding onto the end of the cot, screaming at himself in the mirror, Charlie screaming back at Noah. Charlie is "reading" books with me these days. I'm full-on helping him to read now, since I realised he's well into it. I put my finger under each word, pausing every so often for him to fill in a word in a sentence. I'm not distinguishing between "easy" and "hard" words, not labelling them either way, not even commenting on what he's doing. He'll sometimes guess a word from the context, or get a similar word to fit. Sometimes he'll know the starting letter and some sounds within the word, and he'll begin it and I'll finish it. Sometimes I'll start the sound of the word and he'll finish it. Sometimes he'll just get it wrong.
I'm being careful not to lose the flow of the story, as I did used to pause and explain, and he gave out to me for it, so I make sure the reading is at medium pace, and we muddle along, and at the end we'll comment on how we read the story together. I keep thinking of Roald Dahl's Matilda (read it!) and how she was reading at 4 years old. I know this must be possible, and while I'm not "hot-housing" a little genius here, don't want him ostracised from his peers (or "jeered" as Maura Derrane might put it!) I am eager to support his curiosity and see where we go.

Our day today was totally media free, evening too. I cheated a bit yesterday, but totally feel justified doing it. I don't think we'll ever get rid of the tv, or media influences. I suppose I'll do my best to limit it, and use it judiciously. I think certain programmes are brilliant for educating children (Charlie can write the word "exit" and knows it's "the way out", from a Sesame Street dvd). Today in the zoo he told us a lizard was "hibernating", and when I asked where he'd heard the word he said "Bambi". I explained about hibernation when we watched Bambi a few weeks ago, and he remembered it.
I will continue to record programmes to watch together, fast-forwarding the ads. I don't think I'll be so quick to put him in front of the tv for a whole morning like I used to, especially now as Noah is getting more active, feeding less frequently, eating magnets, and interacting with Charlie. There are more games to play and things to cook, and places to go. The weather is improving, so I hope to have them outdoors everyday, even just in the garden, digging in plant pots and eating compost.
Results of the Slow Living Experiment: I like it. I'll do my best.
Are you inspired to make any changes? Or have you mastered the Art of Slow already? Please share!


  1. I feel like my life is all at once too slow, and too fast. Constant housework to do, always some drudge-work to be done, kids to feed/clean up after, baby to feed/change/scrape food off, dinners to be made, then all of a sudden the dreaded bedtime routine, two 3-yr-olds to be coaxed upstairs and painfully slowly gotten ready for bed, and a 10-month-old to change and bf to sleep... I am ready for sleep myself by 7.30pm! But although there's so much to do and always a rush on, I feel like it's sooooo boring a lot of the time (I think my mind is starving!), and I need to take more pleasure in the little things again... like playing games with the twins, reading to them more etc etc.. it sounds like you do a lot of that which is great. I should be doing more of that. They do play together a lot though, so they are constantly absorbed in some imaginary game together, or else they're fighting :-S or dragging the baby along the floor... so I end up kind of copping out and not really instigating any particular activity or teaching them anything! Also, they go to playschool. Does Charlie? my two are in the ECCE scheme (free year). 3 hours every day. Which has been great at times, but there are days I just keep them off, just because. I think it's great you're still bfing charlie. my poor twins only got 6 weeks (lots of problems and no help, this time around I made sure I got help and thank god I did so no problems now!) it sometimes makes me sad reading of your feeding charlie, because my two are only a bit older than him and if I'd succeeded in bfing them after those early weeks maybe we'd be like that now... I digress though - my guilt issues are for my own blog if I ever set on up !!! love dropping in here to read.

    Niamh S. x

  2. oh and PS - ditto on wanting an espresso machine!!! I know they are sooo expensive, but I plan on saving up for one and having a beautiful illy americano every morning first thing! coffee is one of favourite things!

  3. Loving your account of slow-living Niamh. I'm guessing I'm slow-living too today as I've declared it pajama day, have had 2 cups of tea, read stories beside the fire & snuck in wee bit of Shrek on tv too : ) Yes, I am weak too hee hee!
    Aine x

  4. Dear Niamh, if I had twins I don't know how I'd be coping or if I'd ever have continued to breastfeed, so rare is the support in this country. Plus you have a young baby too, so you really have your hands full and need to be kinder to yourself! I'm sure you're doing a brilliant job; if twin 3 year olds are playing happily together they are obviously happy, well-rounded kids which you can take full credit for.
    I do barely any housework, leave the food on the floor, the dishes piling up all day, I just cook and mind/feed babies. I really am a lazyass, and my other half does all of the cleaning when he gets home. Not all husbands can/will do this, and so I realise I am one of the lucky ones. Please don't compare what you read here with your own life, only last night I was crying over the fact that I can't go for a spontaneous pint, and I felt so trapped in my life, it seems all I do is mind these children. I really have to look on the bright side, and appreciate the little things, because that's all there is here.
    No, Charlie isn't ready for playschool/montessori yet, we suggest it every so often, went as far as checking one out last year, but he's happier home with me, and I've decided I'm going to respect that, until he asks to go. He plays really well with kids wherever we go, and we've loads of opportunities for playdates, so he is getting great social interaction. I get what you mean by saying your mind is starving, and that's why I started this blog, I really needed to do something just for ME. You should start a blog if you're even halfway interested in doing it, you don't have to tell anyone it exists until you're happy with it.
    Don't feel guilty about not breastfeeding the twins as long as you would have liked. I had 5 weeks of almost daily support from my midwife, which is unheard of (she's a saint) and I had only 1 child and no physical issues, just mental ones! You can always express a little into their daily cereal and they'll get antibodies that way, I'm serious by the way!
    I hope you get your espresso machine. You really deserve it. How about for your next birthday ask your friends/family to give you vouchers for the shop that sells it? I'm slipping into a 2 coffee a day habit this week, dangerous!
    Aine, I LOVE pyjama days! My favourite Mom blogger who is always looking fab in her photos (bleubird vintage) allows herself 2 pyjama days a week. I'm more like 4 a week, but I love the idea of not feeling the pressure to get up and out every day. Really wish we had a fire, so jealous!
    I'd better stop here, this is becoming a post in itself! x

  5. Love your blog, but are you not worried that marbles may be a choking hazard for baby ? Also grapes are supposed to be (read that somewhere) so I always cut them in half. All for not being paranoid, letting baby learn about world etc, but marbles are very hard and round and easily lodged in airway and once is enough.


A lovely comment makes my day, please share your thoughts! xx