Reasons to be grateful: our neighbour’s friendly relationship with my son

When we moved into our house a few years ago we didn’t really know the area very well at all. We had all sorts of plans to get out and get to know the place, and meet some new people. But nothing ever turns out quite as planned, does it?

We weren’t here that long before I gave birth to our son, and not long after that a series of national and international lock downs began. As a consequence, for quite some time our explorations were limited to our back garden, and the only new people we met were our immediate neighbours.

They are an elderly couple who have lived on our the road for a long time and they have taken great delight in building a relationship with our son. The husband in particular looks out for my toddler most days, and makes a point of smiling, waving, and saying a loud hello to him in an excited tone of voice.

When this began in the spring this year, I am not sure if Baby Magpie knew what to do with this kind of attention, but now it has become one of the highlights of his day. He will often look out of the window for our neighbour, and give a little wave to the space where he expects to see him, irrespective of whether he is there or not. When they are ‘talking’ face to face over the garden fence, Baby Magpie is a little more shy, but our neighbour stands and waits patiently for my son to give his little wave back.

I think as the last couple of years have been difficult because of the pandemic, and I feel grateful for simple moments of connection like these, that have become particularly precious.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you want to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Reasons to be grateful: My heroically stubborn cat is teaching my son to be gentle

We have two black cats in the Magpie ‘s Nest that we adopted several years ago. They were already middle age by the time we adopted them, understandably nervous, and had fully embraced some eccentric habits. When we first bought them home to our flat we did not expect to be soon bringing a baby home as well, and thought that they may have a long time to get used to us in relative peace.

However, fate had other plans, and in that year the cats moved home three times. Once from their original home into a cat refuge, then to our flat in Central London, and then finally out of central London with us as we moved further afield to be able to afford a house. Not long after that final move we bought home a baby, and they have learned to live alongside him as he has grown into busy toddler.

Recently my son has developed a deep and enthusiastic love for our cats, which unfortunately is not returned in kind. As he has become more and more mobile, one of my cats, who was the more anxious of the two, has decided that his best strategy is to remove himself from the situation, and to hide if he feels necessary. This was the kind of reaction I expected.

Our other cat, however, has decided on a different approach. Over the last year as he has got used to us he has decided that he really liked to hang out with us, and will endure quite a lot of unwanted heavy handed patting from my son if it means a good chin scratch a few moments later. One of his favourite things is to lie on the window sill and watch people or birds through the window. My son takes advantage of these moments to practice stroking him, but excitement will soon over take him and there are more than few occasions on which a tail has been firmly grasped. My beautiful stubborn cat clings to his spot on the window anyway, refusing to be moved on, never batting him away and waiting for a parental intervention. In do so he allows myself and Mr Magpie to try to teach my son about what it means to be ‘gentle’.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you want to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Reasons to be Grateful: People are nice to my son

I’m sorry to have been quiet for that last couple of months, I have started back at work and am experiencing the lockdown child care crunch that will be familiar to many parents.

This won’t be a long post, but I wanted to share this picture of my son. He likes to stand in on the window sill in our front room and bang on the window as people pass by. Obviously he is still too little to stand up there on his own so I am often sitting there with him, just behind the curtain. I don’t think passers by can see me, but they do see him and they frequently wave. This makes him very happy, and he bangs on the window a bit more and shouts.

Parenting a young child during lockdown hasn’t been easy. There aren’t many places I can take him at the moment and he seldom sees anyone other than me and my partner. Hopefully all this will change soon, and he can get on with making friends and meeting people outside. In the mean time I am really grateful to the people who wave at him. It makes his morning or his afternoon to get a wave.

Thank you for reading. I also make art and films. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Love in the time of coronovius

There is a quote about history which goes something along the lines of ‘the past is a different country, things are different there’. It’s been over a month since my baby was born and I am beginning to feel something similar about being a parent. It is a different kind of existence. Time moves differently here.

Before I got pregnant I thought quite a lot about how to use my time efficiently, how to fit the most in. Now days pass and I have little idea about how the time passes.Yesterday I managed to spend half an hour editing an early chapter in my novel and it felt like a big achievement.

This morning I have spent a significant amount of time watching my baby smile as he farts in his sleep. He seems content with himself, and so I am content to sit here with him.

It feels good, even with the coronovius raging outside to be present in these moments with him. I thought was quite a patient person, but am learning new things all the time about that. It is another thing to feel greatful for.

I also make art. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Mother’s Day and difficult times

As I write the I’m sitting in bed with the baby asleep on my chest and I’m managing to sip luke warm tea without dripping it on his little white best. I’m not sure what parental skill level that is but I am grateful for being able to do it at all. Yesterday was my first ever Mother’s Day. It feels a bit strange to me, like I can’t quite own that title yet. I’m not sure if that relates to having an IVF pregnancy, or if it’s because the world feels a bit upside down at the moment.

I have been writing a novel over the last year in which one of the main characters goes through a psychological/ physical change which involves becoming more aware of their physical body. When I became pregnant it didn’t occur to me that this experience would help me get under the skin of that character, but having a baby has turned out to be a profoundly physical, almost animal experience.

I was always a bit suspicious of the pastel coloured, sugary depiction of mother hood that seems to predominate in our culture. So far motherhood for me has not been particularly picturesque. I’ve been strongly reminded that however much I may like to live in my head, I’m very much a biological being. I had a cesarian section and have been limited in what I can do as I recover. I’m only just able to lift things again, and still get very tired when I walk for more than half an hour. My body automatically produces milk to sustain my baby, who decides when he wants to feed whether it is convenient or not.

It’s also been a bit difficult to get ‘back to normal’. We have been hibernating as a little family for almost 3 weeks as the coronovius upends normal life outside. We are just getting to the point where we are ready for little trips out if the house, but everything has closed and all of the little social groups and things like that for new parents are on hold. My body begins to look like it did before I was pregnant, but I can’t swim because the pool is closed, or walk far because we are social distancing. It will probably never quite be the same again.

Even against that background I think we are very lucky. We delivered the baby and came home before the hospital was full of people with the virus. Inside my partner makes me tea and does the washing while I cuddle the baby. We are happy and warm together, and have enough food for a few weeks. I have much to be greatful for.

I also make art. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Reasons to be greatful: a morning of rain

It’s been so hot this week and it turns out that it’s quite difficult to cool down our flat when the sun is out. I really struggle in warm weather as I get light headed a lot and find it difficult to concentrate. I have not done much art this week, but I have done lots of extra sleeping.

This morning when I woke up I could hear the rain against our windows and the air was significantly cooler. Our cats have been having a nice time this morning looking out of the windows into the rain.

I also make art. You can things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying.

Reasons to be grateful #9 – misty winter sunsets like these

I’m at home with my parents this weekend. We headed out for a walk in the woods rather later than I would have preferred today due to various reasons and for the first few moments of the walk I was kind of annoyed.

But if we had left earlier we would have missed this wonderful misty wintery sun setting over the Severn estuary in the Cotswolds.

So we were lucky to be late today.

Reasons to be greatful #5 – in this very hot summer we have some rain.

I’ve been finding the heat pretty difficult to handle this week. Yesterday afternoon our seemingly neverending dry spell finally broke. We had a little thunder storm and a couple of hours of on-off rain. I don’t work on a Friday – it’s normally my day for doing creative things. I was finding it difficult to get my brain moving on any thing yesterday. I wasn’t as productive as I had hoped to be.

Then the weather broke. I coukd see the clouds gathering outside, and then the rumble of near by thunder, a flash that could be lightning. I took myself out into the garden and waited for the rain to fall. And it did. Lightly at first, then big fat, delicious water droplets that soaked into my T shirt and covered the ground. I felt cold for the first time in weeks. Wonderful.

Like what you see? I also make art. You can things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying

Reasons to be grateful #5 – walking in the woods with my best one

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One of the things I’ve been doing with this blog over that last few months is trying to keep track of some of the things I am grateful for, following this post about gratitude. I thought it would be fun to build up a little collection of doodles to capture these. Finding the time to do this has been a bit challenging, but I have enjoyed thinking about what to draw.

Over the last few weeks we’ve had some unpredictable weather here in the UK, swinging rapidly between spring sunshine and flurries of winter snow. We’ve been lucky enough to have time to go for 2 really nice walks in the woods, in between the snow showers and rain. I find being in the woods particularly relaxing and refreshing, and love the curving unruly forms of nature. A few weekends ago we came across some beautiful mosses, which were intricate in form and all kinds of vivid greens.

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My fiancĂ© (still getting used to calling him that) frequently have our best, most thoughtful conversations while out walking and not distracted by other things. It is often in the woods where we discuss what we would like to do together in the future, or scheme to create a joint project. So I am grateful to have that time and space with him whenever possible. I also find that when I am walking I have some of my best ideas. I think there is something about the rhythm of walking that may make different connections in my brain in comparison to just sitting in front of a screen or with some materials. So I am grateful for that different kind of ‘head space’ too.

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Like what you see? I also make art. You can things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying.