Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Season Of Goodwill; Our Experience Of Goodwill

I've heard it said a number of times during the last few days that the "Season Of Goodwill" is nearly here.  It prompted me, tonight, to ask a couple of well-known internet search engines when exactly this season is.  Not coming up with a definitive answer, I have concluded that ultimately, this just refers to Christmas.

It's a shame, in a way, this title.  Does it mean that goodwill and human kindness does not exist for the rest of the year, then?  I have been a fortunate recipient of "goodwill" many times throughout my life... from smaller random acts of kindness (a stranger picking up a dropped unnoticed toy, for example), that occur often, to some more specific huge, unprompted and incredible acts of goodwill.

It's our main experience of goodwill, an overwhelming and unexpected experience, that I am writing about today.  One which goes to prove, I think, that there is no such thing as a "season" of kindness,  but proves beyond any shadow of doubt that human kindness exists at all times of the year...and for which I, and my family were, and still remain, very, very grateful.

I'm going to write this post in parts.  The first, is I suppose, to give a bit of background behind this particular story.

In February 2010, our beautiful little girl, Polly, was stillborn.  The days which followed her birth were a haze of immense and all-consuming grief.  A week to the day later, I decided to follow brave Andy's lead, and step outside our front door for the first time, to go with him to collect the twins from their morning at nursery.

As we made the short journey to nursery, we had a brief conversation of how we should try to focus on the positives and the good things around us, which obviously mainly involved the twins.  We decided we would spend the summer with my Dad, who we all enjoyed spending time with, and who had been a huge and very vital support to us during the last few weeks of our pregnancy with Polly in particular. He had looked after the twins overnight for their first ever night away from us, when Polly had been born.

Fate/life, as it happens, had other ideas.  As we arrived back home with the twins, our 'phone was ringing.  My Dad had been taken to hospital & was seriously unwell.  We needed to go there immediately.  Andy's amazing Sister and Niece arrived, along with my wonderful best friend, and we were reassured that they'd look after the twins.

We were sent, with many hugs and kisses, on our 20 mile journey to Hereford, with sandwiches they'd prepared and a bottle of wine and a couple of plastic beakers.  We ate the sandwiches en route, somehow, and drank the wine later on that evening...after we'd been to the hospital where a heavily pregnant doctor (the irony was not lost) confirmed what I'd known the moment we'd received the phonecall - my Dad could not be saved.  He died, shortly after we arrived at the hospital.

It's difficult to put into words how heartbroken we were.  At the best of times, Dad's death would've been devastating.  But just a week after losing our little girl, and his death being completely unexpected, was beyond anything I could comprehend.   Their funerals were held in our village Church 2 days apart - same time, same grave.

It took a while, after that, to gain the courage once again to face the "real world".  We stayed at my Dad's house, with my brother, and huddled together, focusing only on getting through each day; each hour at times.

I started to think, a couple of weeks later, about sorting through some of my parents' things (my Dad had kept most of Mum's possessions from when she died, right down to her shoes, which remained by the back door, as though he had always been waiting, expecting her to come home.) It become a project, a new focus; I would bring boxes over from our home to Dad's, and sort through a few of his & Mum's things at the same time.  We'd planned to move in properly over the course of several weeks, but finding a much-needed purpose, I started making the round-trips, bringing over our possessions, as often as possible, sometimes a couple of times a day.  We were living and basing ourselves at my Dad's house, and with the exception of larger items which wouldn't fit in my car, things we didn't use at all, and the baby things which were purposefully left in our house as I couldn't face them, we had pretty much moved in.

Some 6 weeks or so later, Andy went away for the weekend.  He'd been nervous to go, anxious to leave us, but I reassured him that we'd be fine.  And we were.... to start off with.  The weather was hot and sunny, and I took photo's of the twins playing in the garden.  I felt, for the first time since Polly and Dad had died, some genuine optimism about the future.

What I didn't realise, but that two forensic teams later concurred, was that as I took the photo below of the twins eating their tea in the garden that night,  a fire had started at the side of the house.

It wasn't a small fire; it would've started that way, but very quickly became a huge one.  My Dad's home - our new home - was turned from this:

To this:



To be continued in a couple of days.....(please, don't be disheartened; this is, I promise, an incredibly positive story, and what followed next, in terms of the response from family and friends around us, completely blew us away - still does to this day).

Monday, 3 December 2012

Monday Club - Our Christmas Tree Farm Visit


I've had a brief break from writing the blog due to illness this end - Andy had a chest infection the same time as Baby M had bronchiolitis.  But both now on the road to recovery, thankfully.

So while I turn my attention to the ridiculous back-log of cleaning / tidying / washing, etc, I am joining the Monday Club this week, but my post is going to be a short one & instead I'll share some photo's.


As Baby M started to feel better, we wrapped her up, bundled her and the twins in the car, and went for a very short trip; our first family trip to a Christmas Tree Farm (the first time I've ever been to one, actually).

I thought the twins might burst with excitement as they realised there were Christmas trees as far as their eyes could see.  As they raced off around the forest (ok, so my 4 year old's thought it was a forest, it reality it wasn't that huge), they whooped and squealed with excitement, only stopping when they slipped over in the mud (several times), pushed each other over in the mud (several times) or to yell out "this one, I like THIS one best!".

Here are our pics....

Have a good week, all...

Saturday, 24 November 2012

To Kerry

My thoughts on this are late.  HOWEVER... I'm working on the basis that as a fellow twin Mummy, Kerry would appreciate that sometimes things go to plan..but more often, when you have twins et al, they don't!

I first came across Kerry's blog shortly after I started my blog.  I launched into my own blog without ever really reading other blogs, a handful, at best.  I had no idea, for example, that there is an entire world of bloggers "out there".   Only when I'd written a few posts here, did I start to have a look around.

And one of the first blogs I found, was Kerry's.  I did what I always do -  I read the intro/biography and then read from the beginning.  I found her posts honest, loving & hilarious at times, and loved her blog description of "because eight arms are never enough".  Yes, as a fellow twin Mummy with another little one, I recognised that feeling!

But then I read the more current posts, where suddenly she stopped writing.  Her husband wrote instead.  He told Kerry's blog readers that she's suffered an aneurysm, and was seriously poorly.  And from there, my real relationship with her blog began.

We might be friends, through the twin Mummy thing.  But instead, as well as being a Mummy of multiples, I am also someone who has experienced the lightening strike of a brain aneurysm.  In 2003, my Mum had one...several hours later, she died in hospital.  In 2010, my Dad also had one...a couple of hours later, he died in hospital.  Both my parents were happy & entirely healthy.... both my parents were, within a matter of hours from the outset of their aneurysms...gone.   I quote my brother here "I thought lightening didn't strike the same place twice".

I don't mean this a glum reflection on the prognosis for Kerry, I mean this as a very positive thing.  She got through her "lightening strike".... she's made progress.  She's had a big setback, and currently has been moved back from her local hospital to her regional one.

But she's battling, she's fighting.  She's here. There are so many reasons to be positive and hopeful.  Recovery will be a long journey, but recovery is where she is heading.

I cannot imagine what her husband is going through.  I cannot imagine what her children are going through (though I do also know that children are so very resilient), that Multiple Daddy needs only to know & be reassured that he is doing just fine in terms of supporting & guiding their children through this indescribably difficult time - but if support is offered along the way, MultipleDaddy, then never turn it down, as it is only a potentially positive thing for you all, a different outlet,  and never a reflection on your ability to cope, simply an additonal support for all of your well being at the moment; likewise if things are hard then there are organisations who can offer support to your little folk - you are never, ever, needing to cope with all of this on your own.

So, join with me... say a prayer, or wish on a whatever you do when times are hard, because we ALL, each and every single one of us, believe in something - and right now, the important thing is to wish Kerry a good, smooth recovery from hereon, and to wish that she will be back with her family as soon as can be possible.


Monday, 19 November 2012

Reasons To Be Cheerful


I'm joining in the Reasons To Be Cheerful linky again this week, hosted by MummyFromTheHeart.

After a short period of time of feeling unexpectedly & inexplicably glum, I am feeling  much brighter and more positive again, and wanted to share my Reasons To Be Cheerful, which are also the reasons why my mood has lifted;

1. A visit from a good friend -  A good friend of mine and 2 of her children visited me last week.  In my miserable mood, I was so tempted to cancel her visit, feeling I wouldn't be good company.  But she's a stubborn friend; the type who if I cancelled would probably still turn up anyway, so I kept our "date".  I am so glad that I did.  Not only was it lovely to spend time with her and her family, as always, but I found myself catching & sharing her excitement as she makes big plans for the future. It was also good to chat through a couple of my worries and challenges at the moment, and be reminded that every family has its battles.  It was a lovely day.

2. The support from my husband - I had one of those "Where is my life going?" conversations with Andy (my husband) last week.  It didn't result in any answers or plans, but I did realise that whatever I do in life, whatever decisions I make, Andy will always support me.  Once I do decide where I'm going (metaphorically speaking), I know that whatever path I take will be so much easier knowing I have his support behind me.  I realise I am very lucky.

3. A day at the park - A day at the park, before the twins started school, was a regular occurrence.  But since they've been at school we rarely do anything on a school-night, especially now the nights are getting dark earlier (maybe a play in the garden but even that is becoming a rarity).  Weekends are a mixture of relaxing, seeing friends or family and trying desperately to keep on top of housework/laundry and ever-growing to-do lists.  Yesterday afternoon, we decided, on a whim, to abandon all jobs & chores and take the children to the park for the afternoon.  It was cold, it was muddy, but the children (and the grown-ups) had a fab time.  We all came back covered in mud & giggling.  It was a precious afternoon, and a reminder of how unimportant the dusting really is.

So come on, your turn, what are your Reasons To Be Cheerful...?

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

"Our First Parents' Evening" - Reasons To Weep

We had our first  ever Parents' Evening tonight.

Although next year we'll probably arrange some babysitting, this time round I am glad that we took our 3 little monkeys along with us.  If we hadn't, I suspect Andy & I would've simply sat side by side and blubbed.  The reasons being;

1. L - She is doing wonderfully with her work, which we'd guessed was the case.  The one aspect of her school life we were keen to hear about, was her confidence and social skills.  Where she has, for quite some time, demonstrated a natural ability to concentrate and learn, she has struggled with shyness and a wish to play with others but not being confident enough to do so.  Her confidence took a huge bashing when we lost Polly & my Dad, and even more so when we had our house fire  (more about that another time) - she developed an awful stammer, and was utterly terrified of smoke/steam/loud noises for months afterwards.  Even leaving her at pre-school was often fraught. She's come a long way since then, and we heard tonight that she seems happy at school, and has plenty of friends.  We're delighted.

2. H - When H was born, he had to fight to live.  When he left hospital it was predicted we could expect some form of physical and/or learning disability.  He had close monitoring and support for the first 2 years of his life... and faced other predictions along the way, about his his future.  One by one, he has surpassed every expectation made of him from his early days.  His determination and a lot of luck has won through.  We have never pushed him; we have simply tried to support & encourage him... and tonight we heard he's doing great in some areas, and is even ahead in some others.  We're delighted.

3. Baby M - As we unloaded the children out of the car, we realised she'd done a poo.  With no time to change her, we did what any parents would do (wouldn't you??), and hoped for the best that we'd "get away with it".  We almost did, but allowing her some freedom in the school hall so that we could vaguely concentrate on the conversations that we were there to have, she proceeded to scrunch up any errant papers that she found - one of the teacher's post-it notes; part of the wall display, etc.  With a brief interlude whilst she threw herself lovingly at every adult in the vicinity, as though they were her long-lost parents *rolls eyes wearily*... and then, just as we thought we'd got away with the whole poo situation, the teacher swept Baby M up for a cuddle to distract her from another act of "your card is already marked" vandalism.    Baby M's bottom was far  too close to the teacher's nose.  We left shortly after that.

Like I say, we'll sort out a babysitter for next year.

Our chalk & cheese twins may have trodden the same path in life...but each of them have had very different and individual journeys. We are very, very proud of them both.  X

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Reasons To Be Cheerful

I am joining  in with a new blog hop (new to me, I mean) this week.  

It's called Reasons To Be Cheerful.  It speaks for itself, really.   

Do take a look at the other blogs in the linky, and the reasons for their writers' cheerfulness this week.
I'd like to add that MummyFromTheHeart, who runs this linky, is one of the voices of the ONE Campaign. Inspirational. 

So here we go, my reasons to be cheerful this week are:

1. We've all settled back into school after the half-term break, and after the initial first couple of over-tired evenings (H fell asleep in his tea the first day back!), we've re-found our routine surprisingly easily.

2. I am feeling very cheerful & encouraged after the responses to my fairly desperate blog post about our difficult nights with Baby M.  I have had so many replies via my blog, Facebook, Twitter & email, with lots of different ideas and suggestions, that I now feel confident that we can find a solution that will work for us.  And the support...just the people who've given virtual hugs or reassurance has picked up my fairly glum, sleep-deprived mood, too.  I'm very grateful. x

3. We have a family Halloween/Bonfire Night party this weekend. It's with the outlaws (my husband's family) who I love spending time with, and who, since the twins started school, we haven't managed to see much of.  Looking forward to it!

So, come on then, what are your reasons to be cheerful this week?

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Breastfeeding - Help Please

I'm in a bit of a pickle.  Putting it lightly.  Here's the scenario...

I didn't expect to ever feel comfortable with breastfeeding.  I certainly didn't expect to ever enjoy it. 

I did it, if I'm honest, for 2 reasons:

1. She's my last baby. This was my last chance to try breastfeeding.  I always work on the basis of "don't knock it til you try it", so I wanted to try it; for pure curiosity, and knowing that it is what the World Health Organisation recommends.

2. We lost Polly.  I probably don't need to expand on this, do I?  Something about Polly's loss and the fact that I didn't really get to experience anything with her; any bonding in real life...well, it just made me more determined to make the most of any potential bonding experiences with Baby M.

When I first started feeding her, I really didn't like it.  It was fumbly, agonisingly painful and exhausting.  I cried through every feed.  I couldn't possibly see how either of us were really "getting anything from it" but dogged determination made me persevere, nonetheless.

I focused on getting through each feed; each day; each week; each month.  And then before I knew it we were working towards feeding for 6 months.  By that point, over time, our feeding relationship had changed. It was clear that Baby M enjoyed it; and so did I.  

We've had rocky moments along the way... teething, hunger strikes, blocked ducts resulting in lumps the size of tennis balls (several times)... but we've navigated our way through them, together.  And it really is together... it's been teamwork all along, little M & I. I think that's what I love about it so much.

And she's 16 months old, and we find ourselves in a bit of a groundhog day situation.

Baby M goes to bed at 7.30pm.  She sleeps soundly until midnight or so (unless teething or poorly).  But then, from midnight, she wakes and feeds hourly. 

I've gone back to work part-time now.  And I'm tired.  Very tired.  Little M, bless her, seems to be absolutely fine on the hourly wakings.  But I'm not.

The time has come to tackle the night feedings.  She's not going to like it.  I suspect, given I know how much she can scream like her little heart is broken if she doesn't get fed when she wants/needs it, then nor am I.  I'm feeling very guilty, that the very thing....feeding on demand... that I worked so hard to provide for her, is the one thing that I'm now about to take away from her.   

Is that being cruel?  Or being realistic?  Should I have done this much, much earlier?  Or is it right that I kept going til a point I can't continue any longer.  Should I somehow find some more stamina and just keep going?

We've tried me sleeping in a different room so that Daddy could settle her, and that worked well.  For a week I slept on the sofa... but the very first night I returned to our room, she started yelling to be fed again.  She's not daft.

We have a plan... "no milk at the bar" after midnight, and if she wakes after that point, then I'll offer her a beaker.  I'll be reassuring and consistent, and after a week or so of this, we'll all be comfortable with the new arrangement.  

That's ok, isn't it?  

Monday, 29 October 2012

Monday Club - Outwitting The Sock Monster

It's Monday again; the twins are back to school after half term, and Baby M and I are beavering away at home, starting the mammoth post half-term clean & tidy-up.

We're having a quick cuppa / dance (I'm the one with the coffee; she's the one doing the dancing, in case you're wondering) while I write this week's Monday Club post.  I'll keep to the theme of our day.

You can find the other Monday Club posts over at Hello Wall.


Outwitting The Sock Monster

Do you have one in your house?  A Sock Monster?

I've never spotted ours, but I'm certain it exists.  It lurks somewhere between the laundry basket and the washing machine.  The reason I know it is there, is that no matter how many pairs of socks go into the laundry basket, or into the washing machine, I am always left with an odd sock or two at the end of the wash.  Somewhere along the way, no matter how hard I try to outwit the sock monster (pairing socks, putting them in a separate laundry bag, etc) it still manages to snaffle a sock or two each time I wash.

I keep the odd socks at the bottom of the ironing basket.  We play matching socks fairly regularly, keeping on top of our pairs, as any good domestic goddess does.  (Though if I'm honest this is nothing to with my home-making skills; this is more to do with once inventing a game to keep the twins out of mischief; it worked, and we've carried on with it ever since).

The twins have got the hang of the game, and enjoy it, seeing it as a serious competition of who can match the most pairs (which admittedly does sometimes result in some questionable couplings).  Baby M is a bit too young to understand the game, preferring instead to sit in the washing basket and balance as many socks as she can on her head, or runs giggling around the house, trying to post her hoard into the toilet or out through the cat-flap, leaving a trail of fluffy footwear behind her...

I suspect we may never trace many of our misplaced socks; our Sock Monster is a clever one, that's for sure.

But on the plus side, we also, handily, enjoy making sock puppets....

Friday, 26 October 2012

The Twins - Their School Journey So Far

We're nearing the end of the first half term holiday for the twins, and of course it's been a time to reflect over their first half term of going to school.

Despite reading Actually Mummy's hilarious and very sound advice for parents of new school-starters, we did of course ignore said tips and advice and do our own thing anyway.

In the first few weeks we had fraught mornings, twin ankle-clinging at school drop-off, and some pretty hideous over-tired evenings.  By about 3 weeks in, things started to gradually change, and very slowly the fact that the twins were now school-children started to feel more natural, as the children got used to their new routines, and we ours.  And now, some 6 weeks down the line, it feels as though they've been going to school forever.

I am so impressed to find that both of them seem to love school as much as the other - this may sound odd, but they are very different in terms of personality and how they learn.  L loves to concentrate on a project, and to really feel as though she is doing "real work" (her words, not mine!), yet is surprisingly shy and anxious around other children.  H on the other hand, is a total social charmer, but finds concentrating for long periods of time (erm, meal-times, getting dressed, etc!) difficult, and is kept engaged through being captivated and interested in whatever is going on. School has managed to keep my chalk and cheese pair equally enthusiastic and excited about learning - and happy, too.

I won't be so naive as to say, or even think, that we have school sussed, because one thing I do know is that when it comes to parenting, every time you think you have something "in the bag", either the children or life moves the goalposts...but I am pleased and relieved at how well my "babies" have settled in so far.

Oh, and a few other reasons why I know we're all settled into school....

1. The pristine "new uniform just out of the packet" look has long gone.  The twins arrive to school in the mornings looking less out of a packet, more out of a hedge.

2. Every single one of their white polo tops now has some kind of stain on it, whether it be pen or paint or grass.  But it's Autumn; they have jumpers/cardigans, so that's ok!

3. I have worked out, on the days I do the school pick-ups, that if Mr Bloom's Nursery finishes on CBeebies and Baby M and I are still at home, we'll have to sprint to collect the twins on time.  If Mr Bloom is still on when we leave then we have enough time for a nice leisurely walk....

4. Talking of walks, the twins now appear to know the names of almost every primary-school aged child in our village, and as such taking a short walk to the shop is now impossible.  We've long had to stop and chat to every grown-up we meet, and now this is extended to every to every child we meet too.  Or at the very least, we yell hello..all at foghorn volume, and in stereo, naturally.

5. The children, for the first time, understand the concept of a weekend, and that a weekend means family time.  As much as they love going to school, they also look forward to & get excited about weekends.  So, if I'm honest, do I.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Epic Mummy Fail

Oops, a lot later than planned, but here are my efforts for this week's Monday Club, creation of Hello Wall.  Do pop over there too, and have a read of her fab blog.

The reason for my delay is that I stuck to my word and have re-thought some of our ways of tackling naughty behaviour since the conversation I refer to in this blog post, and as such my little man seems happy and has made no mention of being sad since.  I wasn't going to write about this at all - but actually I daresay this might crop up again one day, and it'd be a good reminder for me to know that sometimes taking a step back, thinking things through & making some positive changes can affect us all for the better.

Hope everyone is having a good week!

Epic Mummy Fail

As I was putting the twins to bed on Thursday, L told me that when the register is called at school, the children answer by telling the teacher how they are feeling.  Sensing this was a cue from her, I asked her how she was feeling.  She said that was feeling sad, because she'd had to give the school teddy back.  I reassured her, and reminded her that it was so that her other friends could take turns having the bear, which meant that one day it'll be her turn again.

She seemed quite happy with this explanation, and H then wanted to take his turn at telling me how he was feeling

He told me he was sad...because his Mummy had shouted at him a lot.

I'm not sure how a few words from a 4 year old boy can break a heart so much, but they certainly did.

It's true, it had been a particularly shouty couple of nights - my husband had been out til way past the childrens' bedtimes 2 nights in a row, and I'm not going to lie, it is hard, hard work doing the evenings alone, knowing that after a brief twin rest when we get home from school, we have to start the homework production line as soon as we can (they may be twins, but they are total chalk and cheese, and as such doing their homework together just hasn't worked at all), cook/eat tea, bath/shower then stories and bed whilst also juggling for the latter part of the evening, an over-tired baby who would just like to feed thanks very much.

I could tell you now, that I do, still, think my shouty moments were quite justified - like the moment I nipped out to the bin after tea when H spotted Daddy's tea sitting on the side & put his hands in it to see if it turned them orange (it did), and so tried putting hand-prints all over the kitchen cupboards "to see what happened", and a string of similar incidents.

But.. whilst he had been naughty (and knew it), his behaviour was not borne from malicious intent, it was genuinely borne from being curious (another example where I shouted was when he was in the bath and squirted a mouthful of water all over the baby who was just out of the bath herself & dressed, on the opposite side of the room.  His reason behind the soaking - he wanted to see if water could reach that far and what shape it would make if it did).

L saved my heart & sanity quickly after H had made his comment, by reminding him that Father Christmas was listening at all times (!) and asked him if he was sure that he was feeling sad - he very quickly changed his story, telling us no, no he wasn't sad.  He said he was happy, but he admitted he didn't like being told off.

I guess no child likes being told off.  But even so, he has a point re the shouty thing.

With my parental head tucked firmly between my tails, I realise it's time to revise our (very vague) strategies for reinforcing/praising good and positive behaviour, and our strategies too for dealing with naughty behaviour.  I am reminded of one of the many SARK sayings (see picture above) - they sum up the Mummy who I would love to be; the Mummy who in reality I probably never will be; but the Mummy who nonetheless I'm going to try a little bit harder to be.

(Image borrowed from

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Silent Sunday

                                                               Love All Blogs

Monday, 8 October 2012

Baby M's 1st Birthday

Baby M's first birthday was a wonderful day.  Our amazing and beautiful baby was a whole year old. The day was tainted only by the thought (that I carefully filed in my mind and heart for a more appropriate time) that her older sister never got to celebrate her 1st birthday.  Here is a photo taken on her birthday....

Whenever I look at it, I smile from the inside out.

It captures the moment, when presented with her cake with it's lone candle on top, that little M rested her head against mine, allowing herself to be reassured that it was ok to enjoy this sparkly, shiny, flickering wonder in front of her.  And whilst I clearly don't wear sleep deprivation well (a baby and twins; what more can I say!), I love that my love for her, and our bond, is in no doubt.

She's amazing... our happy little ray of sunshine, our final addition to our family.

We celebrated her birthday that day; we celebrated the miracle of her, and of life, too.

“This blog post has been written as an entry into the Tots100 competition in association with Boots Mother and Baby

Why I Blog

I'm joining the Monday Club again today, creation of Sarah at Hello Wall - do pop on over to her blog and have a read of her posts.  Given the title of my post today, I should also add that she's been one of the many lovely bloggers who've given me support and advice during these early weeks of getting my blog going - thank you.

Why I Blog

I wrote in my Introduction post about how my blog first came about, and it's later change of name and purpose.  There's a story too, behind why I returned properly to my blog, and started writing regularly....

Over the summer, I entered a short story competition run by Barrington Green.  Let's just call it a late night whim, an urge to write about Polly.  I hadn't entered a short story competition before, or any writing competition for that matter, but a couple of glasses of wine (for inspiration, naturally!) later, I sat and wrote about our beautiful daughter.

I was totally blown away, when a short time later, I was contacted by the competition organisers to say I'd been chosen as a Runner Up in their competition.  I was... terrified. This position in the competition meant that my story about Polly would be displayed on their website.  For other people to read.  Naively, (yes, yes, it was a competition so there was always a chance this might happen, but anyway....) I hadn't for one moment contemplated part of my soul, my story, becoming "public property", and I just didn't know how to feel about that.

I'm pleased to say that I needn't have worried.  The comments I received in response to my story, from friends, family members and strangers alike, were overwhelming.  And hugely supportive.

It took a little time for me to digest these events, and work out what to "do" with them.  I realised that not only did I find it an unexpectedly therapeutic release to write about Polly, but that I also loved being able to share her too.

It was at that point that I finally turned back to my blog.

I may "talk" about Polly a lot in here; equally I may not "talk" about her much at all.  But if this makes any sense, knowing that I can talk about her in this way, and that when I write about her I am, each time, sharing a little bit of my beautiful girl, is all I need.

If you wish, you can read my competition entry HERE. (It's the one called "Polly").


the monday club hello wall sarah miles

Saturday, 6 October 2012

(not so) Silent Sunday

I'm breaking the rules of Silent Sunday (a photo/picture only) and adding a few words.  The words are:

I(we) are thinking of little April Jones.  She is just a year older than our twins.  Every parent across the land will be able to, I am certain, remember moments, or even lengths of time, where there has been, with hindsight, the possibility for the unthinkable to happen.  It was in one of those such moments where the unthinkable did happen for April.

My picture today is our pink bow.

We're thinking of April, of her Mummy especially, and of her family and all who love her, who must going through unimaginable pain right now.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Monday Club - When A Baby Becomes A Playmate

Good morning.

I hope everyone has had a good weekend.  This is my first Monday Club post; the Monday Club being the creation of TheVoiceOfSarahMiles .  Do take a look at the other blogs & blog posts on this link, and thanks Sarah for getting this up and running!

So here's what I have been thinking about today...

When A Baby Becomes A Playmate

There has been a lovely change in the dynamics between our children over the summer.

This is largely due to the fact that baby M, now toddling and trying to talk, has also been discovering how to play and interact.

We’ve had the newborn stage of her being unaware even of the twins’ existence; we’ve been through the newly mobile stage of M grabbing whatever toy or object the twins have at the time and vanishing with it, oblivious to the frustrated wailing behind her (this phase felt like it lasted for a verrrry long time); we’ve also been through a similar stage of toy-pinching whereby she has twigged that the wails are related to her actions….but the little monkey runs off, proud and chuckling to herself, with whatever “treasures” she’s acquired regardless.

As for now, now is the stage that I love most, so far.  Little M is copying her big sister L, and is pretending to cook in the toy kitchen or learning to feed her dolly.  Likewise she is copying her big brother H and happily pushes cars and trains around the house accompanied by “brrm brrm” noises.  (Yes, I know – very stereotypical).

Even better, to H & L, is the fact that not only does M love to play alongside them, she is also learning to take turns, and (sometimes!) gives a toy on request. 

As L and little M played together yesterday, L informed me “I really like playing with M, Mummy, she’s like my friend now”.

I may well have rose-tinted glasses writing this; there's still wailing, fighting and toy-pinching, and plenty of it....but for now, it's just so lovely to see the baby become a playmate.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Troll Cooking

Normal people might have a nice lasagne in their oven, or perhaps, given the weather at the moment, a warm winter stew.

Not us.  Not in our house.

Today, my husband spent some time with H&L's class in school.  They've been learning all about trolls since they started school, and have been on a number of troll-related adventures. 

They've been reading "The Troll" by Julia Donaldson & David Roberts.

Their latest adventure, today, was cooking.  My husband's part was making troll bread with the children. 

As he prepared and packed his equipment this morning, and practised eating fish (erm, cucumber) from the dirty river water (water and food colouring), it was clear he was looking forward to the session. I thought it was the children who were supposed to be more excited about these things?! 

So anyway, no lasagne in our oven today, but instead a lovely loaf of troll bread.  Made, as all good troll bread is, from squashed flies, crushed goats bones, frogs eyes and other delights....

Monday, 24 September 2012

Last Camp Of The Season

We love, love, LOVE camping. 

My husband and I used to camp a lot before we had children.  We'd decide, on a whim, to go away for the weekend & just throw our tent in the car along with a few basic necessities, and drive to wherever the mood took us. We generally camped in quieter sites with basic facilities, opting for decent views and romantic surroundings over pet corners and soft-play areas.

These days, since the arrival of the children, our choice of campsite may have changed, but our love of camping has not.  And it's great to see that the twins appear to love camping too.

Just over a week ago, we had our last camp of the season.  I just had to write about the site, because it was BRILLIANT.

We went with close friends of ours - they also have 3 children - to Whitemead Forest Park, in the Forest Of Dean.  It's a Civil Service Members Association site, although it is open to non-members as well. It is located deep in the heart of the Forest; the toots of the Forest Steam Railway in the distance by day, and the chiming of a church bell echoing through the trees by night, add to the charm of the site, which is really pretty, well laid out, and immaculately kept.

Wandering around the site, it was surprisingly full, yet at no point did the place feel busy or crowded.  There are large green open spaces, a playground, sports areas, forest walks, etc, and also a really decent number of facilities, which would definitely come into their own in case of wet weather.

One of the things I loved most about Whitemead was that we felt we could, unlike some campsites we've been to, manage to avoid the more commercial aspects of the site if we wished, without the children feeling that they're missing out in some way (they're starting to pick up on such things!).  We didn't feel forced or pressured into using any of the facilities at all.

When I reflect on all that we did in just 2 days & 2 nights there (see photo below, although there's a lot more I could add), I realise why we all came back exhausted, but with huge smiles on our faces and a definite intention to return when the camping season next begins; it was a perfect final camp of 2012.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Unexpected House Guest

We have an unexpected guest this weekend. 

He held hands with H&L on the walk home from school today. Strictly speaking he is H's guest, but both twins were besides themselves with excitement at the thought of having a sleepover.

I'm hoping he's ok.  He hasn't said a word since he arrived - although I imagine if he's come from a smaller family he's probably waiting patiently to get a word in edgeways.  He could be waiting a while.

He sat at the table tonight and didn't touch his lasagne.  Ditto the chocolate cupcake we produced to tempt him.  He was shown and offered all kinds of toys, but seemed to prefer cuddles.  He watched the children have their bath and showed no interest in joining in. 

The twins helped him to bed early.  They thought he might be tired out.  He has his own bed in their room, and a beaker of water by his bed, just like the twins.

I had a quiet word in his ear, when no-one else was around, and suggested he tries to have a lie-in tomorrow...well it is Saturday

I do hope he has fun with us tomorrow and Sunday.  

I hope also, that when Terry the class teddy has to return to school on Monday, the twins won't be too sad.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Temporary Silence

So after making a good start with this blogging malarky, I have slipped behind in the last 2 weeks and have struggled to find the time to write.

It's only a temporary silence - honest - it is a time of lots of changes and exciting new adventures in our family.

The twins (H&L) have started school; the baby (M) has started nursery; the husband has started his new working hours (some from home; some in the office & various other locations) and I have returned to the workforce for the first time since losing Polly, starting a brand new job.

I'm happy to report that all our new adventures are going well, and I'm especially pleased (and relieved) to write that the twins love school so far, even though they are almost translucent with tiredness (despite their new 6pm bedtime).

So, while I get a little more used to the whirlwind mornings and the frazzled evenings; the production lines of lunch boxes and uniforms; the logistics involved in ensuring we're all where we're meant to be at the right time, I may not have much time to write.

I fully intend the blogging to resume in a week or so's time. 

'Til then, here's a pic of  the fun baby M is having this morning... I am trying to pack for a weekend away camping (yes, I know, it was one of those things that seemed a really good idea at the time) and while I'm whizzing around hunting for woolly hats, thick jumpers and blankets, baby M has spent the last hour happily building towers with various cups, bowls & beakers - who needs expensive toys eh.  ;-)

"Speak" soon.....

Saturday, 1 September 2012

I Dreamed A Dream

We played the song “Precious Child” by Karen Taylor Goode at Polly’s funeral:

“In my dreams, you are alive and well, precious child, precious child.
And in my mind, I see you clear as a bell, precious child, precious child.”

I had the strangest dream last night.

I dreamt I was on a car journey with my husband, our twins H&L, baby M and also our daughter Polly, and my Dad. We were travelling uphill, through some kind of forest.  As we drove over a bump, little Polly and my Dad fell out of the car.  We carried on the journey regardless.

A long while later, when we were much further down the road, we turned around and went back to see Polly and Dad.  They were, by now, in a hospital.

On arriving at the door to the hospital I informed the nurse who was holding a huge syringe and clipboard, that I was there to see my daughter.  I didn’t tell the nurse my daughter’s name, but she looked at me knowingly. Her reply was instant “Yes, they’re here.  We’ve been waiting for you”.  It was said as though the nurse had been waiting for a long, long time. Not with impatience, but with the confidence and expectation, somehow, that I was always going to arrive at the hospital, at some point.

I walked into the hospital room with my husband, the twins and baby M. The room was white, brilliant white.  My Dad was sat on a hospital bed.  He looked well, and happy.  Little Polly looked different to how I remembered her; she was probably about 2 (which she would be now, had she lived), and although she was an incredible mixture facially of the twins and baby M, she was very clearly Polly.  She too, looked well and happy.

As I watched my husband and children chatter and laugh with my Dad and Polly, I witnessed my Dad smile at Polly amidst the chaos and noise.  Polly caught his smile, and smiled back.  That look, that smile, that love and that bond between them, completely took my breath away.

And then I woke up.

My daughter Polly and my Dad were buried just 2 days apart - at the same time, in the same place, with my Mum who was already waiting for them.

In the way that a rainbow ebbs away slowly from the sky leaving the memory of it's beauty but no trace of its start or finish, my dream’s clarity has faded from my mind during the day today.  And in the same way that I would never try to chase a rainbow, I won’t be attempting to chase or return to my dream.

But it leaves, in it’s wake, an indescribable feeling of reassurance and peace.



A Letter To My Postman

Dear Postman,

Thank you…for never having reported me for indecent exposure, or at the very least for never having refused to deliver our mail any more.  I have often half-expected both…there have been ample opportunities.  Sometimes by an unknowing ill-timed ring of the doorbell on your part, resulting in a baby/toy/item of clothing placed strategically, but never quite well enough, to cover my modesty. More commonly a total oversight on my part, suddenly feeling the breeze during our doorstep conversation, and realising that yet again I have forgotten to, erm, “cover up”, post-feeding.

I realise that you’ve been on a journey, too.   The first few times, when I answered the door in various form of top-half nakedness, it was only after I saw you standing there, noticing that your expression had changed from your usual indifference to one of utter horror, that I twigged that I still had my baby attached, or hadn’t concealed myself properly.  One mumbled & mortified apology from me quickly turned into many, many apologies, and you have now perfected the art of handing over the post in the fastest possible way, immediately followed by the speediest retreat possible….sometimes involving backward steps, and yes, I have seen you leaping over the wall to next door.

I wanted to thank you, genuinely so, for your understanding and compassion over the last year.  Because without people like you, I would NEVER have had the courage to begin, never mind carry on, breastfeeding my little girl.  You see, it’s the best thing that I have ever done, without a doubt.  I also wanted to reassure you faithfully, as I consider an end to feeding my little girl, that soon you will be able to come to my house and not feel pressurised by the possibility of seeing far more of me than is strictly necessary.  And maybe even open your eyes again.  Soon.

With respect,

Thursday, 30 August 2012

School Uniform - "Here's One I Made Earlier"

Our twins L (girl) and H (boy) are starting school next week.  It’s a very exciting time for us all.

L has all her uniform hanging neatly in her wardrobe, shoes polished & various co-ordinating hairbands arranged (and re-arranged on an almost daily basis) on her bedside table.

But H..well, we’ve had a bit of a problem.  I can confidently say that he has tried on every potential pair of trousers in every single shop in town.  Unlike his sister, he is small in stature, and has the added problem of having no hips or bottom.  Well he does, but for the purposes of trousers, they are too small to do the job that nature intended.
Trousers aimed for the “average” 2 year old which take into account a lack of hips are far too short.  Trousers aimed for the “average” 3 year old are both too long (nothing wonder-web wouldn’t fix though) and also look ridiculously big in the bottom/front. He looks, if I’m honest, like a miniature clown in them. 

There are just six days left until they start school.  And unless H grows the parts of his body required to fit into school trousers properly between now and then, I am tempted to resort to what I can do best – dig out some coloured paper, crayons & sticky tape, and fashion some sort of garment for him from those.  Sequins, pipe-cleaners & googly eyes optional.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Introduction To Me

I first started this Blog in 2010 when we discovered the baby we were expecting had a serious heart condition.  Preparing for a long stay in our regional children's hospital with her, away from our family and friends, my husband & I set up this Blog, under a different name, for the purpose of using it as a way to keep in touch with everyone, and post updates on how she was doing.

We didn't, in the end, ever need to use the blog...our beautiful little girl died the day before she might have been delivered, and was born sleeping (stillborn).

I've visited this page several times over the last 2 years, with the aim of deleting it entirely.  But for whatever reason, every time my fingers hover over the "delete" button I just can't bring myself to do it.  Where we don't have many tactile memories of our little girl, it feels wrong to purposefully erase something associated with her.

So I have removed all the original writing, and changed the purpose of this blog.  I am now going to use this it as a diary, to log & capture the chaotic, noisy, messy and fun existence that is our little family.  Nothing earth-shattering or profound, in fact probably not that interesting either!   This little creation of ours has sat gathering virtual dust for far too long already.  I guess, as they say, here goes nothing...

Thank you for reading.