Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Retreating into Myself

They don't call life a rollercoaster for nothing. You have a dip, and then suddenly before you know it, you are climbing back up the ladder of life and squealing with delight at the top of the world. Does the universe just work it's magic sometimes without you really knowing? I really believe it does. Could I ever have imagined a year ago when I first thought up the idea for a week's writing retreat for my 40th birthday present, that the week that I chose was probably the week in my entire life when I would need it most?

All the dips of the last year - lost babies, a medical maelstrom, chromosomal chaos - have been overtaken by the climb back up. I write this with the sun on my face (yes, the universe even chucked in some hot sun on the west coast of Ireland in March to prove it's mystical magic). I have found a peace I don't think I've felt in years. Even the six hour drive was a treat - I'd piled up the passenger seat with CDs I haven't listened to in years, and belted out my youth as the sun shone on my road to the sea. I arrived on Sunday, and admittedly felt like the twelve year old who has arrived at boarding school. I missed home, I missed my girls, my room looked lonely and I was the new girl. But when I woke up on Monday morning in Anam Cara (Irish for Soul Friend) and pulled back the curtains, I literally stopped breathing. And I realised this place really was going to be a friend to my soul. The sort of friend who throws a blanket round your shoulders, bakes you a chocolate cake and hands you a slice with a large mug of tea. The view still takes my breath away. The desk in my room is against the window and every time I look up from my laptop I am still surprised by the beauty. The shimmering sea glistens in the crook of an arm of mountains and cliffs. I'm in the land of ancient celtic heritage. Mystical stone gatherings and folklore litter the landscape, while my own literary landscape has become as endless and textured as the mountains around me.

I write every day, and I walk, and I talk with the other writers here. Even my belly is swelling with happiness - although more to do with the freshly collected egg breakfast every morning and warm baked blueberry muffins, rather than my busy baby. As a self-diagnosed terrible sleeper, I am shocked to find I have to prise open my eyes in the morning to break the seal of sticky sleep.

This is a very special place, and a vey special time for me to renew, regather, regenerate - to write and sleep and to think (there are so many glorious places that make you want to stop and contemplate life it's amazing any writing gets done at all!) I needed this. So thank you universe for conspiring to make this happen, and thank you hubby for taking care of our girls for a bit so I can take care of me.

Thanks to Susan partridge for your photo!)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

TV is good for kids!

Now before you all report me to the PC Police, let me explain my New Found, U-Turned philosophy. Before I had children I was one of those Pre-Parents who arrogantly (it has to be said) and confidently announced that no child of mine would ever be plonked in front of the evil box. Not that I had anything against TV per se - there was and is nothing more I love than curlng up of an evening with a glass of vino and Grey's Anatomy. It's just I figured that TV would have absolutely nothing to offer a child that would be so entertained and taught and enlightened by moi!

How preposterous us pre-parents were! Actually I was fairly strict at the beginning and the TV was never put on before Daisy went to bed for her first 18 months. And then I needed to feed my new baby which Daisy took great exception to and suddenly Dora became my new best friend.

Now four years on, I still have some issues with TV - I only let them watch taped stuff so they don't get exposed to adverts. They get half an hour at lunchtime (although I have to confess in my pregnancy fog of late, that might have been extended to an hour when that sofa gets a bit too comfy for my weary self), and half an hour at bedtime.

So admittedly we all know TV is good for us parents - a little in-house babysitting so we can send an email or make the tea. But I also think it does have value for them too. At least, my girls' current addiciton is. Who'd have thought a little pink pig called Peppa would make parenting so much easier? She's fiesty (but polite), curious (and smart), sociable (and kind), loving (and funny). Her family are a little madcap but they also do lots of everyday things - Peppa goes to school, she loves her friends (and falls out with them), her family go on outings, they talk about stuff, they have lots and lots of fun.... and they teach my girls quite a lot! Now I'm able to say things like "well Peppa always eats her dinner", and Daisy says things like "Peppa goes to the museum, can we go?" We even dealt with riding a bicycle the other day because Peppa had finally managed it!

Now everything I need to explain I can use Peppa as our perfect example. Admittedly English hubby is less enamoured and I'm secretely delighted that Mummy Pig is rather fantastic and Daddy Pig is a bit of a bumbling idiot....... but, his payback is that my little Irish girls now talk with a perfect English accents! Ah, how I eat my pre-parenting words as I curl up on the sofa with the girls. TV is good. Now, where's the damn remote.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Fabulous Forty - Part 2

Sorry - that was a long intermission. The nausea fog is clearing, but the clouds of exhaustion still hang low.... anyway, back to my list. My Forty Fabulous Things I Love about Life (in no particular order) Part 2:
  1. The colour purple
  2. The way Poppy looks at me when she is naughty
  3. Lists - making them, colour coding them, crossing them off
  4. Planning and organising.... it's an affliction I know...
  5. The crackle of a fire and the heat from the blaze on a cold windy night
  6. A heartbeat at that first scan
  7. When a little hand reaches up into mine when I'm walking down the road
  8. My husband's laugh
  9. Daisy's goodnight kisses
  10. Stepping off a plane on holiday and feeling a foreign sun welcome me
  11. Green chicken curry
  12. Sunday's at home, pottering in a sunny garden with the girls running round throwing sand on the lawn.
  13. Disappearing into a book and feeling like I live there on the pages
  14. Every single thing about Christmas
  15. Driving in the car (alone) and listening to music (other than the Wheels on the Bus) very very loudly
  16. Colin Firth as Mr Darcy jumping into the lake
  17. Saturday morning cuddles in bed with the girls, all warm and entangled
  18. My family - and the fact that 40 years on I still want to spend time with my mum, dad and brother
  19. The knowledge that the first half was great, and the second half will be even better because I will get to watch the best show on earth - my girls growing up
  20. The thought that I'm going to spend the next 40 years of my life with him and them

So there we are. The celebrations are over, the presents unwrapped, the balloons burst. Back to getting on with this 40 year old life.... and just so I don't get carried away with all the love and affection I've received the last week, my girls know just how to keep me grounded. When I told Daisy I was forty last week, she was quiet for a moment and then looked at me forlornly - "That's old. Are you going to die?"