Sunday, 30 September 2007

An interlude

Conventional wisdom has it that reincarnation as an animal is a punishment for past sins, but perhaps it is a reward instead. Atleast a resting place. An interlude of grace.
Margaret Atwood "My Life as a Bat"

My parents arrived on Tuesday. Their presence and help make me feel relaxed and give me a chance to rest, to have idle moments, to spend time on my own.

The best parts so far: having a nap on Friday afternoon*; going out to a movie with my husband on Saturday (first time in about a year); almost not noticing Cat’s teething because there are so many people to entertain her (the top two middle teeth finally came through this week) and seeing the happy interaction between grandparents and the little girl (I’m extremely glad that they finally got to meet each other).

The bad part: knowing that they are going to leave soon first to travel around Europe and then to go back home.

There are so many things I want to get done while they are here, but I think I’ll have to be content with having the opportunity to enjoy sharing the load (and joys) of motherhood as in the last few days I didn’t manage to achieve much more than usual.

* My sleeping patterns are so messed up that I feel like a nap most afternoons and therefore being a bat sounds very attractive.

Monday, 24 September 2007

A rose by any other name

Unlike some families, my immediate family isn’t big on nicknames. We usually call each other by our first names or by words that label our relationships. I went through a period of calling Polina - cousin (but it has to be done in Allan Rickman’s Sheriff of Nottingham style) and everyone else (including her now husband) followed suit until it reach ridiculous stage of people new to our circle being unable to recall her real name. I used to call my sister маленький (little one) and she would reply with большой (big one), but now she and I call each other маленький (little one)/ большой (big one) interchangeably depending on who says маленький (little one) first. During my childhood, when Polina used to spend summers with us, we ended up calling ourselves три корочки хлеба (three bread crusts) – sadly I can’t remember how it came about, I only know that it is a references to a movie Буратино (Russian version of Pinocchio). Polina and Anya used to call me Заяц (rabbit/bunny), as I used to love bunnies and the word looks similar to my name Зоя.

So my point is that I never was truly imaginative when it came to nicknames and I really struggle to come up with them now. So when I needed a new chat name I agonized for ages trying to think of something simple and likeable. At the time I had plenty of African violets growing in my flat (surprisingly they were the only household plants that consistently survived my neglectful attitude to “gardening”) and I thought that Violet will be a good screen name, but I didn’t want people to think it was my real name. At the time I also loved colour purple – фиолетовый (fioletovii) in Russian. And so I combined the two words to get Fioleta.

Eugene, I hope this answers your question.

Sunday, 23 September 2007


A black mouse on a red house.
A green house on a tired mouse!
Dr. Seuss "Crazy Colours"

Thursday, 20 September 2007

The ruffle scarf

I crocheted another scarf – I may have to base the rest of my new wardrobe around all the scarves I own. The pattern for this one is from Essential Crochet by Erika Knight. I love this book because it doesn’t have any bikini top patterns, that seem to be the obligatory for any crochet book, and makes the crochet look elegant.

And this is what happens when one tries to take a photo with a small child around:

Monday, 17 September 2007

The shaping of oneself

If the children and youth of a nation are afforded opportunity to develop their capacities to the fullest, if they are given the knowledge to understand the world and the wisdom to change it, then the prospects for the future are bright.

Urie Bronfenbrenner "Two worlds of childhood U.S. and U.S.S.R."
Sometimes I see a mention of a book, which sounds worth reading. I saw the name of this one and a very short description on Kate’s blog and I had to get it. It arrived last week at the perfect time – I had a stomach bug and on Thursday; feeling weak, sick and extremely tired; took time off work and house-work to rest. I slept during Cat’s morning nap and read big part of the book during her afternoon nap (rare occurrence now since she started skipping the afternoon nap four weeks ago). The timing was also perfect, because this is exactly the book I needed to read to help me sort out some things in my mind and in my heart. The new role of being a mother made me examine many parts of my own personality, my values, my beliefs, my skills, my attitudes, my insecurities. I get frustrated at my limitations, but even more at my inability to change fast enough to get closer to the desired self or still more at being unable to see clearly who I am and who I want to be. The book reminded me that there were many forces that shaped me - both good ones and bad; that I am a product of the two different societies in which I grew up; that the Soviet upbringing (even the softer one of the end days of U.S.S.R) in many ways went against my original character (or at least how I see my character to be); that after moving to OZ I swept away many of my pre-Australian childhood memories. I need to do more thinking. I need time to process the information I have, to re-read parts of this book, to read others, to accept my contradictions and to nourish myself.

At times it is hard to remember that there is a big world outside the small circle of my family. There will be many others, who will influence my daughter and shape her character. And I’m sure surrounded by thinking adults she will take active part in that shaping. I’m fascinated by what effect society and each individual in her life will have on her. I’m fascinated by how complex our human interactions are. For many years sociology was a background topic of interest and maybe it is time to take a more active part in studying it. I’m far from the perfection I seek, but I’m glad that I am seeking.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Rollmop! finally

Our local supermarket now sells rollmop. I’m excited because I had a craving for one since Paul reminded me of them in his May post.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Supporting characters

She screams Mama if she is tired or hungry. She lights up and breaths out Papa, when she sees him (and somehow it makes me jealous as I want to be acknowledged in fun making as well as taking care of her basic needs). And now she tries to say Кряк (the Russian version of the sound the ducks make). It is a common sound in our lives at the moment as she loves looking at the birds and local reservoir has many ducks, the duck monster progressed to making Russian duck noises :-) and one of the supporting characters in her* favourite book is a duck. I also think she is trying to repeat the word Тигр (tiger) after me. Her babbling and general desire to communicate certainly progressed in the last couple of weeks. Today she started waving goodbye and once in moment of utter mental tiredness I almost said “Sorry, I didn’t catch it. Can you, please repeat what you just said” in the response to her expressive babbling, because it did sound like she said something extremely intelligent.

* Potentially it is my favourite book (and not hers) as I love the simplicity of the drawings combined with the presence of small details that feed my imagination into expanding on the narrative. At the end of the book I love pointing at the smiling baby in the cot and saying «Ребёнок улыбается. Он знает, что сейчас придёт мама и возьмёт его на ручки» (“The baby is smiling. He knows that his mum will come and pick him up”). Though I always wonder where the parents are throughout the book and recently realised that parents don’t seem to feature in most of the kids books we have. I guess domestic and farm animals make cuter stories than exhausted parents.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

P.S. It is possible

Here is the quote for the last weeks thanks to Rachel, who is starting to sound more and more like a fellow book and blog addict:
"This time, like all times, is a good one, if we but know what to do with it." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, 9 September 2007

It is possible

I now worked for two weeks and I’m happy to report that working part-time (20 hrs/week) from home while looking after one 9.5 month child (thankfully a very undemanding one) is possible. On the good days it is actually easy, on the bad days I just have to remind myself that I would feel exhausted at the end of the day even if I wasn’t working.

We had to simplify and even scarifies some things to make this new arrangement easier on us. For example I now have dinner with Cat at 6pm and Clive eats something at work. This way I don’t have to cook something specifically for Cat, which she is likely not to eat anyway, and Clive and I have dinner at a reasonable time, instead of late at night (i.e. after 8 pm) and too close to our bedtime. Clive also gets up earlier in the mornings now, so he has time to do few simple household chores before leaving for work.

There is less time for myself, but there is some (I even managed to read all archives of another blog that I found recently). It is usually in the evenings and I struggle to use this time effectively as I’m definitely a morning person. I’m hoping I’ll be able to adjust to the new load/routine after the few weeks and will be able to find energy for reading, writing, drawing, crocheting.

We certainly are more organized about doing something fun on the weekends during our free weekend time. This Saturday we went to the London Zoo where Cat got to see real-life giraffes (she seem to be surrounded with giraffe toys and pictures at home).

I’m struggling to think of a quote for this week as even that requires time. Anyone has any good time quotes?

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Sharing the love for books

Last week Clive taught Cat how to turn the book pages. She loves doing it and again is so proud of getting one step closer to the independence from her parents.

She definitely is growing to love books: the first place she crawled to was one of our bookshelves and it is one of the places she will consistently go towards. I guess it is high fun pulling the books of the bookshelves and trying to sneakily chew on one of them while no one is looking.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Another charming book

It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will. Of course, you must make it up firmly.
L. M. Montgomery “Anne of Green Gables

This book was in the kids section of the library, but I thought I’ll read it anyway since I heard good things about it (and I love reading kids books). I’m loving it! There are still so many books unread (even in my own small collection) and so many more wonderful treasures I may never get the time to read or may not even hear about. Do you have a favourite book or books? Is there anything else I should add to my extremely long list of books to read?

Driving around Suffolk

Short Version: We drove, we ate, we saw, we drove some more and more and more. (repeat)

Long Version: On Saturday morning we piled into a hired car and went to Suffolk. At first the M1 was deceptively empty. Enjoying the high speed we missed the M25 exit (M25 is a circular road around London) and soon hit the roadworks. The exceptionally slow pace forced us to take the first exit and drive on smaller country roads. It took us almost the rest of the day to get to our destination. But Clive loves driving, I love being in the moving vehicle, both of us love looking at the cute tiny English towns & villages and so we enjoyed the drive. We also enjoyed some nice food at the Royal Oak pub (I wish I could remember where exactly it was) and I decided that blues and greens are the best colours for Cat after seeing her in their highchair. Eventually we arrived to our destination - The Pond Farm.

The next day started with delicious English breakfast made from the local produce: Clive raved about the bacon and I loved the sausages (often I’m highly unimpressed by the taste of English breakfast sausages). We piled into the car again and drove to Framlingham to see the town (very small and sadly most of the shops were closed on Sunday) and their castle. The view from the castle wall was beautiful and while Clive learned some historical information from the audio-guide, Cat and I looked out for the flying birds in the hope of preventing her from eating my audio-guide.

At this point poor thing became really tired, so we went on another drive to give her a chance to nap and eventually ended up in Aldeburgh – a costal town full of people as it was fantastically warm and sunny day. We were told that the fish & chip shop there is great and this fact was confirmed by the long queue stretching along the building and around the corner, so we opted to eat at the pub. We also got a chance to see Suffolk Craft Society exhibition – Clive fall in love with Toby Winteringham's wooden mirror frame and furniture and I with Sally Pirkis' felt & silver bracelets and Lin Patterson's bright quilts and pillows. After a pleasant walk along the beach we drove again in search of The Crockery Barn, where Clive got some jam and I another highly impractical handbag. After another nice meal at the Old Mill pub, we came back to the farm to look at the cows, chickens, horses and pigs.

On Monday the breakfast was as delicious, but poor Cat wasn’t too happy as she is still (again?) teething. She didn’t sleep too well during the night and fall asleep almost as soon as we started driving. So instead of looking at the shops in Framlingham we drove to Woodbridge, spent few hours there walking around, having relaxing cup of tea and looking at the birds before heading back to London. By the end of our trip we stopped noticing the pink houses – there seems to be disproportionate number of them in Suffolk. Here are some examples from Woodbridge: