The End

This blog is now closed. The story continues over on Flip Flops and Flying Carpets.

Thank you for reading.

The Sweeps

In Rochester, there is a yearly festival known as The Sweeps Festival. It is held over the first May Bank Holiday weekend and it involves music, costumes and dancing. I'll let Wikipedia explain further:

Since 1980 the town has seen the revival of the historic Rochester Jack-in-the-Green May Day dancing chimney sweeps tradition, which died out in the early 1900s. Whilst not unique to Rochester (similar sweeps gatherings were held right across southern England, notably in Bristol, Deptford, Whitstable and Hastings), the Rochester revival was directly inspired by Dickens' description of the celebration in Sketches by Boz.
The festival has since grown from a small gathering of local Morris dance sides to one of the largest in the world.
The current festival begins with the awakening of the Jack-in-the-Green ceremony, atop Blue Bell Hill at sunrise on 1 May and continues in Rochester High Street. [Wikipedia]

Until a few years ago, not all houses in Malta had numbers. Many houses only had names. (Bear with me, this will make sense soon enough). And although this has now changed and every door has been given an official number, most have retained their names too. It's a sweet tradition.

The house we will be moving into over the next few weeks has both number and name - but a name that meant nothing to us. For months, since beginning the purchasing process, we have tried to find a suitable name for it. A name that represents us and our journey. We really wanted something that linked back to Rochester, but in a subtle way. We researched Dickensian names and had a few ideas but none entirely convinced us.

Then one day, David jokingly suggested The Sweeps. Yes, I said, I love it. And so did he.

So it was named. Our house will be called The Sweeps. It will mean nothing to anyone here, people will wonder what it means, they might think Sweep is our family name, it will certainly get conversations going. But to us, it's perfect - it's us tipping our hats to Rochester and saying thank you for being such a significant part of our journey. A way to keep Rochester close even though we're thousands of miles away, living out our next chapter. To hold on to a place where it all began.

I'm so excited about this new house!

See, I told you it would make sense in the end. 


Kickstarting Summer

We've been planning this first swim of the year for weeks now. Every time we hoped it would happen, it was windy or one of us was unwell or something else cropped up that put an end to our plans. But last weekend - despite Emily's leaking nose which we are convinced is down to her very last milk teeth emerging - we went for it. By hook or by crook, we were going to get into that water.

It was still cold. But true to our word, we got in. Even Emily came in... for two minutes.

She then sat herself by the side of the pool and took it upon herself to keep David and myself well "hydrated".

There was a conversation that went like this.

Emily: *splashes me*
Me: *splashes her back*
Emily: NOOOOOO Mummy! Don't splash me!
Me: That's not very fair - you're splashing me, why can't I splash you too?
Emily: Noooo, I splash you, you don't splash me! *splashes me*
Me: *squeal*
Emily: It's OK Mummy, it's just water!

Little cow.

Adam slept through most of the fun. And when he did wake up we took mercy on him
and didn't subject him to the cold water... not just yet.

We'll be doing it all over again next weekend. Summer is officially here. 

Doorways and Alleyways and Bright Green Crocs

We met up with Emily's godmother, Danielle, last week for a spot of lunch in what is fast becoming my favourite food place on the island, Jalie's. Here's are some snaps from our walk back home.

I love old doors. The older and less perfect the better.

And for the record, Emily would sleep in those Crocs if I let her... she just adores them!

Man to Man: A Letter from David to Adam

After Emily was born, David wrote up his side of the birth story. I asked him to write something for Adam too but we both forgot for a while. I reminded him again last week and here is what I found in my inbox last night. I absolutely love it and had to share it with you all. Enjoy.

"Hi little man – let me tell you a little story about how you came into this world

"You're nearly three months old now and you already know us … you know that when I put that cloth over my shoulder I am about to pick you up, and you smile. But there's plenty you don't know yet. You'll learn … those bright little eyes of yours miss very little … but let me take you back, to a place you don't remember …

"You were conceived in England and born in Malta … and your mother, from the day we had decided to move back to Malta, had one obsession. That she wanted, to the extent possible and medically advisable, to have you by a natural birth … no surgery, no fancy procedures … naturally … the way she had your sister. You've realised by now that you are a very lucky boy … you have a fantastic mum, and part of what makes her fantastic is a determination to do the right thing, to give you and your sister the best she possibly can … and that was, in her mind, a natural birth. She was very obviously born to be a mother, I know that and anyone who sees her with you and your sister comes to realise it pretty quickly, so as a mother she wanted to do what her body was made to do.

"One other thing you'll realise is that we are blessed with two amazing women in our family … and two amazingly hard-headed women. So I went along with what she wanted … not because I had to (although I did), but because she was right and because this was her experience. I was just along for the ride, to make her life as easy as I possibly could.

"I won't bore you with all the hassles we had before you arrived. One positive of all of those hassles is that we got to see you quite often and I for one was not complaining. But your mother was stressed, and I was stressed that she was stressed (you'll realise it's going to be a recurrent theme at home). 

"We were silly that night (and we still are many nights) and we paid the price as you announced that you would be arriving at around 3 in the morning. We were wide awake pretty quickly but we just hadn't had enough rest. We had your grandma over at 3:30, said goodbye to your sister (it was hard not to cry because she looked like an angel and her world was about to change … all our worlds changed … for the better … but your sister had no idea what was coming). 

"As we drove to the hospital we were apprehensive. Mummy wasn't in pain really and we had no idea what to expect. With Emily she was contracting regularly … with you it felt more relaxed … the contractions were bearable, we were chatting and the adrenaline just wasn't there to start off with. At 5 I was falling asleep, struggling to keep my eyes open, but then at some point in time a switch flipped. Your mother needed me. 

"You'll realise as you grow up that as a man you will have many roles, but the one I really hope you live up to is the role of the rock. The women in our lives are beautiful, impulsive, emotional, real … and as independent as they are (and believe me your sister will really be something) they will need a shoulder to cry on, a kind word (or a harsh one sometimes). That's where me and you come in, my little man … to help them be the amazing women we know they are, for those times when they just need that little reminder. 

"But I digress. The rest passed quite quickly. Your mother was a real trooper … she dealt with the pain fantastically, but you'll realise she has some really weird quirks. She kept crying because you weren't coming fast enough, because she needed a bit of help from the midwife … because it wasn't perfect … as if perfect was ever on the agenda (but then again, your mummy is a bit of a lot weird – take it from me). 

"But then perfect was front and centre of the agenda … because quicker than expected you turned up. And your father once again became a blubbering wreck. I cried, yes I did. You were a beautiful, healthy baby boy … your mother had delivered you the way she wanted to, naturally … there were no complications like there had been with your sister … and I could feel my heart swelling with love for you. And I mean swelling … because after your mother and your sister I was genuinely worried that I could love no more … until you turned up. It was like my heart grew … a heart that felt full with your mother and sister, just got fuller. I couldn't stop looking at you. I couldn't wait to see your sister fall in love with you … and fall in love with you she did. 

"Your arrival has made us complete. Thank you little man. For who you are, for your smile, for all you have done and all you will do, thank you."

I said it last time and I'll say it again, Emily and I are very lucky girls to have these strong men in our lives. 

The Littlest One

Adam is almost twelve weeks old now and things have changed dramatically since I wrote Save as Draft. The resentment is long gone. Things have happily fallen into place, just like everyone told me they would - just like I knew they would. It's just so difficult to see through the fog sometimes.

Now, I take both kids out most mornings. We meet friends or grandparents and do fun things together. I'm even slowly learning how to ask for help, which unsurprisingly comes in very handy.

Often, both children nap at the same time which, as any mum of two or more will know, is a very, very big thing. And so difficult to get right... And so frustrating when it doesn't happen. 

Adam is a lovely baby. So easygoing and happy. And so "eager" to follow a routine. Evenings started out quite tricky with him. We weren't able to work out what he wanted, and when. He was very unsettled over Emily's dinner, bath and bedtime most days, which was frustrating because it meant Emily didn't get a peaceful bedtime for a long time. Very often, Adam was screaming in the background with David while I read Emily a story and tried not to show my agitation. 

Having said that, Emily is now used to his crying. She used to cry when he did but that thankfully stopped weeks ago, although she can sometimes lose her cool and be heard angrily muttering "Shut up, Adam!" under her breath. Oops.

However, over the past two weeks we've come very far and despite my trying to push for a 7:30pm bedtime for Adam (for selfish reasons - with summer coming, I wanted the option of a longer afternoon), he has decided he wants to be asleep by 6:30pm. Who am I to argue? It was after all Emily's bedtime when she was little too. It worked for her, as it obviously works for Adam. 

So although it may prove to be harder during the summer months (we'll just deal with it then), it also means that we get two solid hours with Emily before it's time for her to sleep too. Since this came in to play, things have gotten easier. She obviously loves the extra attention, so our relationship has improved. We spend the time snuggling in front of TV, or doing puzzles together, or reading stories. 

After he sleeps at 6:30pm, Adam will then wake up around 3am, and again just before 7am. On a few occasions he has slept through the night. I have become one of those mothers I almost despised when Emily was a baby. At his age, she still woke up 4 to 5 times a night. Maybe karma does exist! Having said that, when David is away, Adam thinks it's acceptable to get up every hour. It's happened over two work trips now and David came back to an exhausted me both times - only for Adam to snap back to his normal, settled nights once David is back.

I am loving life as a family of four. Things are becoming fun now - it's not all hard work and not much reward any longer. A chuckle from Adam is enough to make my entire day feel worthwhile and with so many exciting things in the pipeline, it's mostly all good at the moment :)