Archive for November, 2012


Things have been kind of gloomy around here lately! I’m slowly slowly recovering. I’ve been reading a lot of blogs and realised that many (or likely most of those) that show a ‘perfect’ cosy life do go through tough events, but they don’t dwell on it in their blog. Perhaps they mention it briefly but then they go back to focusing on the cheery stuff. Whilst I perhaps won’t edit quite so much, this is what I will try to do here (though I suspect you will still find a rant or two!).

Focus on the positive, the happy, the things that will carry me through this tough time.

Starting now.

After years of not celebrating Christmas, we are getting in the spirit this year (well, maybe me more than Mr B so far, we’ll work on that!). And to cheer me up, I got a Christmas tree yesterday.

A real one, with soil, and scent and spiky needles (ouch!). Too early? I don’t care. This is not so much about Christmas as it is about adding some sparkle and light into the gloom.

Decorating it was a joy. Tinged with nostalgia – so long since I had last done it, a reminder of family Christmases as a child.

I got the wood ornaments at our local craft shop. Our town is all chains – bland generic shopping – so I am doing all I can to support our lonely independent shop!

When I used to tell people we didn’t celebrate Christmas, the first question was ‘why? is it for religious reasons?’. A ‘yes’ would have satisfied, but since the answer was ‘no’, I usually received a shocked, disbelieving and sometimes slightly pitying look. Yet I don’t feel I was missing out. I find the commercialism, the enforced jollyness a little sickening. Somehow, it seemed like opting out was an odd choice, as though Christmas was mandatory, no longer a religious holiday, more a ritual in worshipping the gods of retails. Of course, Christmas is not a particularly Christian tradition either, more a ‘borrowing’ of pagan rituals to absorb the local customs and makes the new religion of the time more appealing and acceptable. I won’t dwell on that – being an agnostic and all!

So here we are. Going back into the fold. Celebrating Christmas. I want to try and be mindful though.

No deluge of gifts, only a few thoughtful ones. And only to the closest of family and friends (if fact more likely only to Little Miss and Mr B, with cards for everyone else!). Some handmade, some not.

No gargantuan feasts, but perhaps a few treats.

And definitely some home decorations – the tree, perhaps a few garlands – some sparkly joy in the gloom of winter. Some also handmade, some not. Hopefully we will accumulate these over years to come; I dream of crafty winter evenings with Little Miss, creating the next pretty thing for our home.

Now enough dreaming. Time to live in the here and now. Time in fact ….. for a cuppa!


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Having a miscarriage

I was 10 weeks pregnant. When I found out a few weeks ago I was expecting a child, I was over the moon. We would like to have 2 children, but with the ‘unexplained infertility’ issue and the IVF, we could only hope we might be able to conceive naturally (I don’t want to go through IVF again). So when it happened, my heart just about burst out of my chest with happiness. I was so worried as soon as I found out that something might go wrong.

Monday morning: I saw the first signs. A few brownish spots, hardly more than a few drops. I told myself not to worry, that it would pass.

Tuesday morning: the light bleeding continued, now with mild period pain. The doc was sympathetic but not hopeful. Beyond 6 weeks, bleeding is generally bad news (though not always; I clung to a sliver of hope).

Tuesday evening: sharp pains. A rupture. Blood. Fresh and red. Clotty.

The experience was eerily similar to my labour, only this time with no happy ending. When I was about to have Little Miss, I went to bed early, feeling odd. I woke up a few hours later with a start, to feel something rupture. I jumped out of bed to see my waters cascading down my legs, soaking the floor.

This time, I hadn’t yet fallen asleep. I could feel my uterus contracting, painfully, in cramps that came in waves. Suddendly, a tiny rupture. I felt something tearing, my mind almost hearing the rip. I rushed to the loo, sat down and …woosh. Only no waters to signal the arrival of a new life, only the red certainty of blood, ending one, and taking with it the dreams and hopes it carried. My body had been busy contracting, not to push out a brand new child, ready to take its first breath, but to expulse unwanted tissues, by what felt almost like an effort of will. The pain so much less than childbirth yet so much harder to bear.

I had already started to imagine holding my newborn in my arms, giving Little Miss the companionship of a brother or sister, our life as a foursome, our family complete.

Wednesday: the bleeding and cramping continues, in waves.

My heart is ripped apart. Mr B took the day off. Little Miss and I spent most of it in bed (she has a bug and needed to rest). Her soft breathing, her warm body, cuddling up to me, helped me. It brought me some peace and a calm I wouldn’t have felt otherwise. It eased the loneliness a little.

They are now gone for a walk to get fish and chips for supper. Their happy chatter as they were getting ready made me smile.

The bleeding will continue for a while. So will the grieving. I have a scan tomorrow to confirm what I already know. The thought of lying in that bed and seeing the empty screen, no heart beating, no first glance of my little shrimp safe and warm, brings back the tears. Where the sobs were loud, heart-wrenching, child-like yesterday, they are quieter today.

I’m unsure who to tell. Most didn’t know of my pregnancy; will they ever know of the loss? I must give myself the time and space to grieve, decisions will come later.

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A bit of a grand title – entirely tongue in cheek – and I am now going to reduce it to the little happenings of my little world – no great philosophy essay here.

Little Miss is getting into drawing now. She used to ‘draw’ on anything but paper – hands and feet still a favourite but now she also asks for paper.She then focuses very intently on what she is doing (she pulls her tongue out when she concentrates, so cute). Drawing is still not confined to paper of course. If you want a few more minutes to finish your cuppa at breakfast on a Sunday morning before the energetic play starts, leave the bowl of porridge there. Usually there is a little left. Little Miss delicately takes a handful, smears it on the table and draws in it (yoghurt works well too). I can’t guarantee this will happen of course and you might end up with porridge on your ceiling, but if you don’t mind a little mess, it’s a great way to finish a meal without the Little one getting impatient! And drawing in porridge is quite fun for the grown-ups too.
Anyway, I digress. Sometimes she tells us what she’s drawing (spiders are favourites, or ‘ider’ as she says it). Then she hands us the pen, points at the paper (or porridge) and makes requests: a cat, a fish, a spider, a duck.


I can’t draw. Last time it happened, Little Miss asked me to draw a fox. That stretched my non-existent abilities to the limit. I tried a couple of times. She scrunched her eyebrows, looked at me, looked back at the paper – quizzically –  then asked me to draw again (sigh). I turned to Mr B and said,” I’m not sure drawing a box here would work but it’s tempting! I can see why the aviator did it”. I received…. a completely blank look. Mr B had no idea what I was talking about. So I clarified: “you know St Exupery, the Little Prince, please draw me a sheep”. Nope. Nothing.


The Little Prince made a big impression on me. When I was young, I liked the planets, the strange characters, the imaginings. A little older, the deeper thoughts resonated with me and I started to understand the melancholy, bittersweet story. Now, I read it and weep at the ending (having a baby really opens the flood gates. Do they ever shut? Even a little?). Apparently it’s one of the best-selling books in the world, and I must admit I assumed that everyone in the Western World, ok maybe just Europe, ok fine, at least everyone I knew, had read it. But Mr B had never heard of it.

And so once again I was reminded to stop assuming.
So back to drawing. I’ve ordered a book from the library. It’s a children’s book to learn to draw animals from simple shapes. I’m not starting anything too ambitious here! I just want to learn a little, and when Little Miss is old enough, I can show her a few things, get her started if she is interested.

I always wished I could draw well but thought that was reserved for those with special talent. A kind of innate ability that just needed a pen and paper to be realised. When I told friends who could draw how talented they were, they never said, “yes but this took hours and hours and hours of practice”. They just ‘humbly’ nodded. I stopped thinking about it, then a few years ago, I realised that maybe I didn’t have an innate talent to draw (ok there’s no maybe about it!) but that didn’t mean I couldn’t practice and enjoy it anyway. I took a day class in botanical drawing and loved it. Then, as with so many other things, life took over and drawing went down the list, dropping off altogether eventually. So I never did learn to draw. But now, I have the best motivation in the world.

So here I go again. And next time I try to draw a bear, Little Miss won’t make the sound for pig then look at me questioningly. No, she will say bear, loud and clear, in that sweet voice she is developing. Bear mummy!

Yes, I can do it.

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I am picky when it comes to children’s books. Little Miss is 18 months and very active (understatement of the century that one!) so she doesn’t sit through stories easily. The text has to be short, fun and interesting enough that I don’t mind reading it again and again (and again), with compelling illustrations to keep Little Miss’ focus on the page.
So, in no particular order, here are the offerings that Little Miss currently approves of (from the many many books we borrow at the library or find in charity shops!).

Mij Kelly and Mary McQuillan – these are great fun to read aloud and I love Mary McQ’s illustrations. Favourite quote: ‘Oh what a shock! What a dramas of dramas! A COW in the bed – a cow in pyjamas!

Tiger by Nick Butterworth –  Short text with loads of opportunities for sound effects, roaring and bouncing and miaowing. For the grown-ups, look out for the little blue bird on the very last page!

Yes we still co-sleep a lot and I love finding pictures that show the snuggly, cosy bliss that this can bring. I was vehemently against co-sleeping before I had Little Miss, in fact I didn’t understand the concept at all, but as with many thoughts and convictions, having a child just changes everything!

So to continue that theme (kind of)…

Sometimes I like to curl up in a ball by Vicki Churchill and Charles Fuge – the title slightly alarmed me when I first saw that book at the Children’s centre! As with Mij Kelly’s, it rhymes. There is something very satisfying about reading a rhyming text aloud (I know I know , poetry and all that, but I never really got it until now!). I ask where the — (insert animal name here, mole. wombat, koala, millipede, frog, etc etc!) is and Little Miss loves to point them out.

Still can’t think for the life of me what a wombat is in French though!

The biggest bed in the world by Lindsay Camp and Jonathan Langley – they do have an alarming number of children and animals piled into that bed but a sweet book all the same.

Usborne’s easy words to read – at first I didn’t like the text. The sentences felt too short and nothing flowed. But now I find that there is a certain rhythm to it and they are Little Miss’ current favourites. She asks for ‘Tttt’ (Ted) and ‘Ffff’ (Fox) and loves to point at the little duck on each page (she used to say ouack ouack but can now say duck as of last week!). Whether she will still be interested when she’s learning to read (the aim of the books) is another matter but for now, they do the job!

Shark in the park by Nick Sharratt – It rhymes, it has a window on every other page where you can see the shark’s fin (or is it?), what more could you want!

Ten little ladybirds by Melanie Gerth and Laura Huliska-Beith – counting fun with ladybirds sticking out of the pages and disappearing one by one. There is also one in the series with caterpillars which has a surprise on the last page.

Dear Zoo noisy book – I know the Dear Zoo is a classic but this has been great fun. A flap on each page to discover the animal and the sound to go with it. Little Miss loves it and I’ve had to stick it back together many times to repair over-enthusiastic flap lifting! Which reminds me, I must find the Sellotape again.

Others include: Bringing down the moon by Jonathan Emmett and Vanessa Cabban (I used to read her blog but she hasn’t been active in a while, I miss it. Hope she’s ok. Update: sadly she is gone); Why elephant has a trunk (part of the Tinga Tinga tales which I think was also on telly, though we’ve borrowed a couple of other books which I liked a lot less); and Big Blue Train by Julia Jarman and Adrian Reynolds.

If your baby is a little younger, the Usborne Touchy-Feely ‘That’s not my…..’ series is great (Little Miss has outgrown them now). Favourites were That’s not my dragon and That’s not my lion and sometimes That’s not my car!

And a couple of my personal favourites: Just like my mum/Just like my dad by David Melling. Good presents for father’s/mother’s day (I got them for Mr B this year). And this is just spot on – Little Miss and me in the morning.

I hope these have given you a bit of inspiration if you have little ones. Any other suggestions, do share! I am always on the look out for a good book!

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