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17.

Visited Hen Gigi, wished her happy birthday and gave her cards. Took Iggy for a clean in Llechryd (best car wash around). Visited Great Grandad a couple of times. Dropped Poppet off with Nanny. Put all of Ruben’s first size and 0-3 month clothes into storage ! Unpacked the gifted 3-6 month clothes from Fraser. Met Aunty Tara + Nanny for coffee in Cardigan. 3rd immunisations, sobbed. Weighed at 12lbs 13oz. Recovered from his cold ! Sleeping in his giant cot, where he manages to turn himself 90 degrees overnight, sometimes even 180 degrees. We have noticed that he is interacting more with his colourful toys + playmate more this week. Tambourine Tots on Thursday, played musical instruments, met other children who were a bit older, watched bubbles float past, made a paper owl + sang songs. Poured with rain, picked Rhys, Leon + Lilly up from school, took them to Nanny’s. Met Buster, the Jack Russell cross that Grandma looks after. Signed up for the local swimming session.

Being A Mother

It recently occurred to me that I should write about being a mother, or at the very least about becoming a mother. Because it is something learned, something you work at each day. We are given the title of ‘parent’ as soon as a child is born and that takes a while to sink in. Mum. Mother. I have almost forgotten what life was like without that title. I wrote about my life, fresh out of University, and settled into employment in a previous post ‘Being An Art Graduate’. I wear my new title with pride and a surprising amount of comfort now. 

The reality is I have quite a few titles… I’m a mother, photographer, knitter, printmaker and self-build van lover all moulded carefully together. Lots of people said that a lot of my ‘hobbies’ would cease to exist once I had a child, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Having Ruben has fuelled me to push my interests further. Since October 2016 (when Ruben was born), I have managed to:

  • > become a contributor to stock photography company, Alamy. > approach a local café about taking photographs for their social networking sites (which never really came to fruit, unfortunately) > visit the Aberystwyth Printmakers workshop and begin initial ideas for a new body of work > open an online shop to sell handmade goods, with Etsy > raise a newborn into an almost-walking, sleeping, eating, happy baby.

We have made a pretty good team so far and it’s wonderful to look back and think he is content enough to allow me to photograph blackberries, for my stock photography, whilst he sits in the pushchair or keep himself entertained with his constant babbling, whilst I analyse work that sits under the umbrella of ‘radical craft’ or whizzes across the kitchen in his baby walker, whilst I knit newborn baby socks at our dining room table, to sell locally and online. 

Becoming a mother hasn’t changed anything, it’s enriching my life in more ways than I would have imagined.

Over + out.

harrietbaggley

Ceramics Collection, Aberystwyth Arts Centre

Open Call. Take a visit. Connections between sea and ceramics. Read about salt-glazing. Watch the flicker of the fluorescent strip light. On, off, on, off. Ideas bounce. Sketch outlines. Wander. Explore the textures. From a distance. Lacking the tactile quality. Photograph the artefacts. Glass windows. Glass shelves. Reflections. Ethereal. Scout shore. Hidden treasures. None uncovered. Side by side. Narrative. Breath life.

16.

Saturday was spent with Grandad + Grandma Ireland; brunch at PHX, dropped into the city to do some shopping (Ruben wasn’t very impressed!), KC Peaches for coffee + cake and Eddie Rocket’s for dinner. Ruben was much happier in Eddie Rocket’s! Sunday was spent in the Irish countryside, a trip to a beautiful, independent café called Hazelhouse. Delicious breakfast + even nicer cakes. Then Grandma drove us to Powerscourt Waterfall, which was delightful aside from all of the selfie-takers. Grandad, Roo + I went for a little walk around the grounds. Monday was a very long day but Roo did amazingly well; at one point I knitted baby socks whilst Ruben sat in my lap, watching, and we chatted to a gentleman about his knitted, yellow hat from Japan. Tom picked us up from the station + we collected Poppet from Nanny’s house. Grandad Ireland said what a lovely, little character Ruben is getting. I now have a full blown cold + Roo is fighting off his very first one ! Extra snuffly, and the cutest cough. He smiles at you, when you fake cough back at him. 

15.

This week started with meeting Grandma in Aberystwyth, after she had been shopping for the house with Great Uncle Iestyn. The rest of the weekend was spent at home, relaxing with Tom. Just us three together ! 

Iggy passed his MOT. Ruben started on baby rice for breakfast. He isn’t quite convinced by it but eats it all anyway. Making the baby rice was a bit hit + miss, at first. It was a bit soupy to begin with (they lied, it does’t thicken with time) but each morning, it looks a little better. We have been trying to prop him up in between his nursing pillow, which helps him to sit up by himself. He doesn’t sit up for very long, and he couldn’t do it at all without the pillow, but it’s progress ! He is even starting to grip onto + hold round toys by himself. It seemed to happen out of the blue, and I was ridiculously excited. I even videoed it for Tom ! 

Ruben + I made our biggest journey to Ireland, to visit Grandad + Grandma. We boarded the train in Aberystwyth, changed at Shrewsbury and ended up in Holyhead. Then we checked in at the port for the Ulysses ferry to Dublin. Grandma picked us up from the port; we recalled how kind people had been along our journey. Tom couldn’t come with us, sadly, because he couldn’t get the time off work. Especially after taking Aunty Siân to Gatwick Airport the previous weekend. Grandad + Grandma took us for breakfast at O’Briens, after Grandad had a quick haircut. We then had coffee + cake at Liffey Valley shopping centre and I even managed to have half an hour to myself to buy much-needed, new trousers ! Grandad treated Ruben to a new sleeping bag and pairs of joggers.

Ruben’s hair has had a little growth spurt this week, and it’s coming through blonde. Although he has lost a bit more at the back (Tom calls it a little monk spot).

14.

Ruben + I visited Hen Gigi’s house. She kindly gave Ruben a hand-knitted, stuffed rabbit, named ‘Portland’, in the hope that Ruben will follow in her footsteps and be a part of the same secondary school house. I had no idea that this was a family tradition, to be in Portland, so I ended up in Tyglyn ! Grandma Birmingham was at Hen Gigi’s house too, as they had been to visit a property to rent. Grandma put the deposit down the same morning.

A little get-together was arranged at Cwmtydu beach, as a farewell and good luck to Aunty Siân. It rained a lot, so the beach was pretty quiet. I couldn’t believe how colourful the stones were in the rain, we even managed to collect some sea glass + weathered pottery. Ruben’s cousins were fascinated by the sea mammal carcass that had been washed up (we couldn’t distinguish whether it was a seal or a dolphin). 

I drove us to Birmingham again, to see Grandad Birmingham, Uncle Max, Aunty Lola + Aunty Ava. We even managed to squeeze in a quick visit to see Uncle Edward + Aunty Hazel in Stoke. We went for lunch in a place called Cappello Lounge, where I had halloumi and sweetcorn fritters. Back in Great Barr, we met all of Grandad Birmingham’s friends. Timmy + Eddy brought cheese and biscuits and we talked about ‘parakeets in the park’. Ruben was a very good boy considering it was quite late, he even laughed at Debs pretending to cough. The following evening, Aunty Lola helped me bath Ruben. We walked around Sutton Park with Grandad Birmingham and his friend Andy, who brought Blitz with him. The weather forecast was for snow; low + behold it snowed as we drove the higher ground outside of Aberystwyth.

(above; taken by Tom) (above; taken by Tom)(above; taken by Aunty Siân)

 

13.

How has it only been a week since I talked about Ruben’s first Christmas ?! That feels like a million years ago.

We spent New Year in our dressing gowns, watching the fireworks in London on the television with Aunty Siân + moaning about the government’s use of tax money (I’m pretty sure we do this every year !) Also, we don’t live in our dressing gowns; it’s Winter, and it’s comforting. Which is why we asked Nanny to get one for Ruben for Christmas.

Tom started the new year  by driving to Port Talbot to pick up his niece + nephews (Ruben’s cousins that stayed for Christmas) whilst Aunty Tara worked a night shift. We also looked after Poppet this week; she loves the garden at our new house. Tom took Poppet + Ruben for a walk in our local area, probably the same route we took on Christmas day !

The stars were spectacularly abundant on Monday night, so I tried taking a few photographs. I’ve only done it once before, so it took a while but it was wonderful spending time under them and spotting constellations you don’t always see.

The next day, Tom had an unexpected day off so he spent it with the vans and showed Ruben + I how he was doing the oil change and then showed us the state of Francois’ air filter. All jargon to me, but it makes me super happy to see him working with vans. He also decided to spray paint some of Francois with black chalk paint ! It looks like it should always have been that way. This is what I partly love about having older vehicles, you can do whatever you want with them without being too precious.

On Wednesday, Ruben had his second lot of immunisations at the local doctors surgery. This time there was only one injection in the thigh + the orally given one (which he doesn’t even bat an eyelid to); his health visitor said that he won’t have any problems with weaning !

After several conversations with family + friends about weaning; Tom + I decided to try Ruben  with his first ‘meal’ this week. He has already been trying new foods over the last few weeks; grapes, banana (which he pulls a face at), orange, yogurt, tomatoes. Only very small tastes, but enough to give him a sense of it.

So, I made a butternut squash + spinach lasagne (thankyou Jamie Oliver) with boiled potatoes and broccoli for Tom, Aunty Siân and myself. Ruben was given potato, broccoli and some of the tomato sauce from the lasagne all blended together. We popped his new bib on, and gave it a go.. He absolutely loved it! Not too much mess either, considering it was his first time.

The next morning I tried him on baby rice but he didn’t like that all; he pulled some funny faces and didn’t look like he enjoyed it very much at all. So we danced around the house, listening to Bear’s Den on vinyl instead. bright_stars_01 francois_02francois_01ruben_065 ruben_066squash_lasagneruben_064ruben_067ruben_069

12.

Ruben’s very first Christmas ! It was spent with myself, Tom, Nanny, Aunty Siân, Aunty Tara, Poppet (Nanny’s dog) + cousins Rhys, Leon and Lilly. We woke up at our usual time of around seven for his first feed of the day as Ruben’s cousins patiently waited for us to get up. They told us about the chocolate coins that had been left out for them by Santa, all around the house for them to find. After dressing Ruben into the Christmas suit that Aunty Zoe gave him, we went downstairs and discovered the stockings that Santa had also left for the children. They speculated that the Christmas elves must have sewn their names into each of the stockings. Ruben’s contained; rusks, Christmas pyjamas, wooden toys + his first weaning cup and toothbrush !

After stocking had been opened, Nanny made everyone pancakes and Ruben tried a very small amount of banana. He pulled some funny faces at first but soon understood that it was something new to eat. Breakfast was cleared, showers were had, dinner was started + eaten and before we knew it, it was time to go for a walk ! We went looking for local pheasants, and turned back upon spotting some. Tom decided to race the children to the nearest lamppost whilst pushing Ruben (who didn’t ever stir from his sleep the whole time).

The children opened their main presents from us parents (Rhys had money for driving lessons, some several years away but still what he asked for ! Leon received a Fußball table, Lilly a pink, wooden doll’s house and Ruben a spherical night light for the ceiling). Us adults decided to do a secret Santa this year, we gave ourselves a budget of £20.00 + it was a good laugh, which we opened in the evening ! Overall, a very relaxing Christmas considering the full house + a newborn.

Later in the week, I took Francois to have his handbrake cable changed as it had snapped. This later turned out to not be the issue, and his brake shoes ended up needing to be replaced instead.

Ruben has been feeding a lot more this week, I think it’s a comfort to him when his gums are hurting from his new teeth trying to make their way through. But he is still sleeping through the night, like he has been since he got home from the hospital in that first week ! We have been extremely lucky in that sense. I’m not sure I’d function enough to put this photographic documentation together for him if he didn’t ! I’ve also noticed that his eyelashes are darker now and he has a little bald patch at the back of his head now.

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11.

I’ve been wanting cherry scones for some time now, so I decided to bake some + take them over to ‘Great Grandad’ Cyril’s house as a treat. Aunty Siân, Tom, Cyril, Ruben + I sat around the kitchen table enjoying baked goods and cups of tea.

Ruben has been much less sensitive this week, I think his teething might have settled down a little. Tom + I had an appointment with the dentist so I asked about teething and he confirmed that Ruben was teething ! But it could be some time before any teeth actually break through the gums. Ruben also has a much bigger interest in his own arms now, I think he’s finally beginning to realise that they belong to him.

We did a little bit of Christmas shopping this week + decorated the tree with sweets, pompoms and candy canes. Some of which mysteriously went missing over the following days ! (I caught Ruben + Tom with handfuls of them one evening.) On Christmas Eve we went food shopping with Aunty Siân, Aunty Tara + Nanny. This year’s Christmas dinner is going to be vegetarian – we hope to raise Ruben as a vegetarian and let him make the decision whether or not to eat meat.

Also, there seems to be a lack of photographs with all the Christmas planning this week !

home_baking

 

10.

Ruben + I travelled home in Francois at the beginning of the week. We still hadn’t managed to buy a Christmas tree, so we made our way to Newcastle Emlyn to pick this year’s tree ! It was spitting with rain by the time we got there, making the pine scent even more potent. We decided on our tree much quicker this year (last year we bought a little, potted one) and lifted it into the back of Iggy the VW T4. At home, we put the tree in it’s space for the Winter and could’t believe what a perfect fit it was for the living room.

An unexpected parcel arrived from my University friend, Lauren. She had included some beautiful gifts + cards for the three of us. My favourite was the card, addressed to Ruben, which said ‘Welcome to Earth’ in silver lettering.

Whilst visiting Nanny’s house, she suggested that I check Ruben’s gums as he has been dribbling an awful lot more lately ! Low + behold, he has his two canine teeth coming through already, such a shock. I wasn’t expecting any teeth for a little while.

We met up with Jess, her daughter Daisy + Molly (who is carrying baby Arthur; due in February). We walked down to Pen Wig, New Quay, exchanged Christmas cards and caught up over cups of tea and hot chocolate ! Daisy tried sharing her crisps with Ruben and we had to explain that she could share them with him when he was older !

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9.

Aunty Tara arranged a trip for Ruben to meet Santa Claus (who had a very Welsh accent). We travelled to Carmarthen in Iggy the VW T4 + went on the steam train to Santa’s grotto. When we reached the platform, I accidentally dropped my camera onto the train tracks ! The driver kindly jumped straight down + scooped it up for me. Miraculously, it was still in full working condition.  We waited in line to see Santa, and Ruben’s cousins chose some balloon characters that one of Santa’s helpers made for each of them. We were led to a cabin, knocked at the door + upon answering we entered the room to find Santa waiting for all of us. He asked each of them what they wanted; Rhys replied “nothing, to be with my family”, Leon confidently replied “a flying helicopter and rub-out pens” and Lilly lost her tongue + hid behind Aunty Tara ! Obviously Ruben was a bit too young to understand Santa’s question, so he gave Ruben a big cuddle instead. After handing Ruben back to Tom, Santa knocked on the fireplace next to him and four presents slid out one by one. We thanked Santa and left his cosy grotto.

On the way back to the train, we met a magician who did some wonderfully, entertaining tricks for all of us. Then we made our way back to the train, waved to local residents standing at their windows, and stopped off at the station’s café. The café was a converted railway carriage with an extension on the back, which excited both Tom + myself !

A few days later, Ruben had his first set of immunisations, three separate ones in his thighs. I have never seen him cry quite as much as he did, it was the hold-your-breath-until-you-go-bright-red sort of cry. Carol said she would be more worried if he didn’t cry at all ! He did well otherwise, and he tried Calpol for the first time to reduce the risk of getting a fever. So he got an extra amount of cuddles to make up for it. Although, he was super sensitive about being touched on the legs for the next day or so.

I went to watch his cousin’s Christmas nativity play, whilst Tom looked after him at nanny’s house. Unfortunately, it was all in Welsh so I understood a grand total of four words all together. But it was good fun watching them all dress up + sing together.

I decided to drive to Birmingham for a couple of days with Ruben this week. He slept the whole three hour journey and was greeted by Grandad Birmingham and his Aunty Ava. This was the first time he’d met her too. Edgar, the pug, was very intrigued by Ruben. I can’t say the interest was mutual. We all went for a walk in Sutton Park, Ruben stayed in his sling the whole time + I was entertained by the idea that the park had an ice-cream van during the Winter.

Ruben’s hair is starting to get darker at the back now and I’m pretty sure that he will outgrow some of his 0-3 month vests before long. He is starting to smile a lot more in the mornings now, which is when he seems most happiest !

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8.

Cousin Fraser’s Naming Ceremony took place on Sunday; Ruben slept the whole way through ! Fraser is eight months old now, and was very interested in Ruben. Cousin Cameron asked a lot of questions about the stray balloon on the ceiling throughout the ceremony, which made everyone laugh. It was a lovely day, where family came together to show their support for each other. Aunty Tara took Ruben to see the fairy lights on the Christmas Tree (as he loves looking at different, bright lights). Tom + I went on the bouncy castle and laughed uncontrollably until I laughed so much that I gave myself a stitch.

On the way home, we took Ruben to IKEA in Cardiff and picked up a couple of things for the house. Tom showed him all the soft play toys.

Ruben + I had our belated six week, health visitor appointment at the local doctor’s surgery. Ruben was weighed at 9lbs 8oz (he was born 7lbs 12oz) + it turned out that his health visitor was also mine when I was a baby ! Her name is Carol. Ruben was booked in for his first set of immunisations too.

The weather has turned much colder this week, it’s feeling a lot more like Winter. We had to wrap up really warm; those gifted, hand knits came in very useful. Surrounding us is the constantly changing Welsh landscape; with it’s ash branches + coppery leaves, the hint of Autumn lingering behind.

This eight week old babe no longer fits comfortably on our laps, laying down, anymore. He has not been quite as grizzly as last week but he is still quick to turn the waterworks on !

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7.

We are still settling into our new home – and feeling so grateful that we found somewhere before Christmas ! Ruben has been pretty grizzly this week, so one of the afternoons I put him in his sling + we explored the back garden together. We have quite a few apple trees + the birds like to eat them from the inside out. We love birdwatching from our kitchen window.

On Saturday, Aunty Siân took us on our first long journey. We travelled over 200 miles to Bracknell for cousin Fraser’s Naming Ceremony ! Tom travelled down in Iggy the VW T4 after work. Ruben met his Aunty Zoe, Uncle Michael, two cousins (Cameron + Fraser) and Grandad Bracknell for the first time.

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6.

Aunty Siân moved out of her flat + into our new house this week; there were lots of trips in the vans and to-ing and fro-ing to coffee shops. But we all managed ! Even if we did get her bed frame wedged in the staircase at one point…

Ruben has had his very first smile this week (Aunty Tara even caught one on video). Although for every up there is a down, as they say. His cries are changing, more vocal. Almost like he has finally found his newborn cry. He especially dislikes putting his cardigan on to go outdoors. But as soon as we are in the van, he is fast asleep ! The same goes for bath time. He cries his little heart out whilst getting unchanged and as soon as he is underwater, his big, blues eyes widen and he settles down.

Sandy Lamb, one of Tom’s clients, brought in a present for Ruben; a grey, handspun + hand knitted blanket. So, so cosy. Ruben adores it.

We also managed to do a tiny amount of Christmas shopping in Carmarthen with Hen Gigi + Grandma.

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5.

This week has been a big one ! We have a five week old Ruben + have managed to move house with the help of family. Unfortunately, our previous landlady gave us notice on the on the old property until January. But we found a beautiful, little dormer bungalow in the same county in West Wales and it is named ‘Field of Trees’. It has a garden for Ruben and a garage with a driveway for Tom’s cars.

I couldn’t have done any packing without our sling, so there has been even more baby carrying this week. Ruben quite likes to fall asleep when he’s tucked up inside it. ‘Grandad Birmingham’ helped me do a lot of the heavy lifting + he took me to The Aberystwyth Arts Centre to see a Jazz Band from Birmingham called ‘King Pleasure and The Biscuit Boys’. He used to be the band’s driver so we had chat with them all after, which is always entertaining.

We have noticed that Ruben is finding more with his hands now, maybe not with much accuracy but you can tell he is exploring different textures. He has even grown out of his ‘tiny’ baby clothes and into 0-3 month sized clothes !

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