Alice Apple, Eleven Months

In two weeks time it will be a year since I was rushed to hospital in an ambulance, bleeding badly and terrified that my baby was dead. Those icy fingers of horror still haven’t entirely gone away, although I focus now as much as I can on the far that in four weeks time, it will be a year since my Alice was born.

SUuddenly, she doesn’t seem so much like a baby anymore. She crawls so, so quickly, and tries to stand up, but ending up in her hands and feet with her bottom in the air.

Just the last few days, her interest in play has exploded. She is forever peeling I to baskets, rummaging in bags, having a wonderful time exploring life.

So much so that I have spent this morning rearranging her play space. I have brought into it toys that both she and Jessica can play with, like our Grimms rainbow, and the matching peg doll people. The peg dolls are a recent acquisition, and have been an immediate hot with both girls. I had mulled over buying them for ages, and took the plunge when some.good condition second-hand ones came up for sale. I wish I had bought them sooner now I have seen how well they are played with!

I have set out a basket of books, a basket of soft toys, a basket of balls, and one of toys like a child safe mirror, rattle, and so on.

Watching her explore and help herself is fascinating…and I am hoping that the baskets will make it quick to tidy in the evenings!

Alice loves her food. She eats with great enthusiasm, and still puts everything she comes across in her mouth. She roars with real rage should anything unsuitable be gently taken from her! She still feeds at least twice in the day, has a bedtime feed, and whenever she wakes at night…which is often! I plan to let her self wean as I did Jessica…I wonder how long it will be? Some days I never want to do another feed again, but 90% of the time it is the loveliest and most bonding experience.

I can hardly believe that in a month we will be celebrating her turning one. a year, a whole year. Where did my baby go?

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And Then She Was Five

I am writing this on a rainy Monday morning. I have a mug of tea to one side, and a snoozing Alice on my lap. The rain is pattering down, and I am glad to be inside.

I have so much to catch up on with you; I think it will take a whole pot of tea and a few biscuits too. There is the rest of our week on Aldeburgh, and the whirlwind week we have had of Jessica turning five.

I can’t believe she is five. It hardly seems yesterday that I was pregnant and then holding her in my arms for the first time. Five seems a real watershed to me, a closing of the door on baby and toddlerhood and the earliest years of childhood.

Our original plan was to take her out of school for the day as here in the UK children do not legally have to be in school until the term after they turn five, so you cannot be fined for taking them out before then. Alas Carl could not get the day off so we had to change our plans.

As it happens, I ended up going to my godfather’s funeral. It was a rainy day like today, and sad but lovely. He was buried at the village church where he was both christened and married, and the vicar wrote the most beautiful tribute. Allan had apparently always said that this was all that was needed at his funeral: Allan Rose was born. He lived. He died. Now let’s go to the pub!

There were beautiful photos in the order of service, and the tribute spoke of how he enjoyed cooking, baking, gardening, being with his family; the simple things in life. It made me think that his was a life lived well.

It felt poignant to be celebrating a life which had ended on the same day as celebrating one hardly started.

Oh how excited Jessica has been for her birthday. It truly is one of the greatest pleasures, having a little one to try and weave magic for, and to see the sparkle in her eyes.

After she was in bed the night before, I put her cake, presents, cards, and celebration ring on the kitchen table ready for the morning. I really enjoyed making her a simple chocolate cake for her birthday cake, and I left a few balloons in her bedroom on my way up to bed.

In the morning she was so excited! I cooked pain au chocolat for breakfast and lit the candles on her celebration ring. She opened her gifts (a basket for her scooter, with a few bits and bobs in it, like new knickers, a bath bomb and so on) and then got ready for school. She put some bags of sweeties in her new basket to share with her friends.

Grandma came after school and stopped for tea. She brought Jessica her own sewing basket filled with a rainbow of embroidery silks, and a tiny flower press, and a posy of flowers from her garden.  Jessica was so pleased!

All of a sudden it was bath and bedtime, and our day (but not our birthday celebrations) were over. Oh my Jessica, all blonde dandelion curls and sparkling eyes and long arms and legs like a lamb. You tell awful jokes which make no sense and laugh like a drain! You love ladybirds and like to catch them and make little homes for them. You love a story still, and to help. You are so good at sharing, and love your little sister so much.

My tea had gone cold and I haven’t told you about her party yet, or our day at legoland. That will keep for another day. Alice is still asleep on my lap and I have tried to get her down but she woke up and I had to resettle her. I really want to crochet a few more squares for my blanket as I am only a few away from being able to join the squares and add the border.

I’ll leave you with a few photos of my birthday girl…

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Shivering In Southwold

Ah the best laid plans. We planned for a day at Southwold paddling and makig sandcastles. The girls kept talking about burying the adults in the sand. Thankfully it was dry but oh, it was cold. And oh, it was blowy!

Our usual picnic spot on the green by the Red Lion was taken up by a travelling funfair which was setting up, so we ended up picnicing in a little shelter with benches in. We persuaded the girls it was not a day for paddling either. I had wanted a photo of Alice in the sand in her swimming costume for the first time, but this is the closest I got:

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I had put her swimming costume on under her clothes, so I snapped this while changing her into warmer clothes.

I can’t help but think ‘Shivering In Southwold’ would make an excellent title for a novel!

This Moment

The girls are, for now, both in bed and asleep. The sky has darkened and the rain is tapping at the window panes. After I settled Alice earlier, I changed into my nightie, long dressing gown, and added my big green cardigan, and slippers. I have on my lap my hot water bottle with the cover I crocheted myself. My hands are cradling a mug of decaf coffee which I have lightly spiked with amaretto. I rarely drink, but I really fancied this. I am trying to decide if I want to start my new book (A Year On Hill Farm) or reread a few more pages of The Gentle Art of Domesticity. I’ll crochet a little more on my blanket. We won’t be late to bed tonight. A delightfully cosy evening, a rainy evening in Aldeburgh.

Little Sips of the Seaside

Here we are, in my happy place. I really should be in bed; both children are asleep, and I have been up until 1:00 am with Alice the last couple of nights, I need the sleep.

But just now I have radio 4 on, and a cup of (decaffeinated) tea, and my crochet. We are in a cottage which isn’t ours, as in we do not own it, but is so thoroughly ours, as in it is woven into our lives. We stay here every year, and we remember before the children, being pregnant here, Jessica toddling here, so many layers of memories as I sit here and look around me.

This is such a comfortable room. This is such a comfortable evening. We’ve had a simple day of sitting on the pebble beach, of drinking tea, painting pebbles. Sea air is so good for you, and here, the very heart of the place is good for ykh. Every time we come, it works its way a little deeper into your soul. I have dreams of retiring here eventually. A bed and breakfast by the sea.

The sky was delightfully brooding today. My perfect kind of weather, really. Warm enough to be comfortable wih bo danger of burning or feeling frazzled, and just cool enough for a cup of tea to be most welcome.

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Alice Apple at Ten Months

Somehow, somehow, that tiny baby who nestled into the crook of one arm turned ten months old today. She has two bottom teeth fully through and two top ones cut through the gum. She is trying so very hard to crawl. She can get onto all fours and rock very fast but just can’t work out what comes next.

She still loves raspberries being blown on her hands and her favourite things are if you pretend to eat or drop her! Why these things should be funny I do not know…but she loves them.

Her hair is thickening and there is a hint of a curl around her right ear. Maybe I will have two curly girls, who knows?!

On A Thursday Afternoon

I am so rarely alone these days, that moments when they come are treasured like pearls. The window is open and the air is cool but not unpleasantly so. The birds are singing to each other outside, and I have a cup of tea in my hand. On my lap is my library book, Forever And A Day by Anthony Horowitz (a James Bond novel) and aside from the birds, all is quiet and still. Jessica’s Nanny has taken Alice down to school to collect Jessica from her Irish Dancing lesson. In fifteen minutes or so they will be home, and I shall be glad to see them…but just now I shall open my book, and lose myself in the quiet, just for a little while.