Joy To The World

And so, it is December. Every day, we move further away from November and for that I am thankful. Now more than ever, I need to look for the joy.

December can be so stuffed full of things to do that it can be easy to lose the joy even in a normal year. December has taken me by surprise this year, I had lost track of the days somewhat. So after work today I need to go to the market and buy our advent wreath.

I have an autumn basket with autumny books and dried leaves in for Jessica which I need to change to a wintery basket. 

There are advent calendars to open, advent candles to burn.

I have not got very far with my Christmas preparations. Cards are bought but unwritten. Gifts remain in my mind rather than wrapped in piles. There is much to do.

But when it all gets too much and I start to feel frazzled, I turn to this song, and breathe, and look for the joy.

How Are You?

aHow are you is an innocent enough question, but one I dread these days. I have to decide. Shall I tell you what you want to hear? Shall I tell the truth? Shall I just say ‘fine, thanks!’ brightly, and feel terrible that I am not acknowledging the truth?

There isn’t an easy way to decide. If I say I am fine, I think people know from looking at me that I am not  alright. If I tell them why I am not alright, it is hard for them to know what to say.

It is exhausting, the constant judging and weighing up. How much to share, how much not to share. 

Two weeks ago, I lost my baby. 

Simple words which can never convey the pain. Miscarriage encapsulates a range if experiences, but it all boils down to the same thing. You were pregnant, now you are not.

We went to a and e as I had started to bleed. They do nothing at the weekend beyond ask a lot of questions and take blood. They told me to go back in three days for an ’emergency’ scan to see if my baby had died or not. I was incredulous. They wanted me to walk around for three days not knowing if my baby was dead or alive?

Sadly the next night I knew I had lost my baby when I physically miscarried. They didn’t tell me what would happen. It was awful, and will haunt me forever.

So here I am. I should have been planning to share the news of our new baby this week, but instead I am in my second week of learning to live with having lost it. 

While both my sister-in-laws and six of my closest friends are pregnant.

While a girl from my NCT group announced on Monday she is pregnant and due the week I was.

After a year of trying.

There isn’t anything to say. I am having to keep going with every day life for a variety of reasons. Given half a chance I would go to bed and stay there for a few weeks.

Joy has been drained from everything. I feel like I have lost more than my baby.

I want my baby back so much. 

So that is why I haven’t been here as planned. I have written and deleted this post several times. I am trying to work past the bitterness, anger and hurt. I am trying to find a space where I can heal.

I have declared that 2017 will be the year of me trying to recover my sparkle.

For now I am faced with trying to organize Christmas and make it wonderful for Jessica, when all I want to do is hide away. I am not making Christmas cards this year. I usually love it but I just haven’t the heart for it. 

Earl grey is my medicine of choice at the moment. I drink it hoping to find salvation in the bottom of my teacup. I haven’t, yet. Soon, please, soon.

Happy Hello Beans!

I think this was my favourite Halloween ever. We have celebrated the season gently and simply, and the joy Jessica has found in it has been just heart warming.

Our Halloween has never been about dripping blood or zombies or monsters (I’ve been horrified by some of the Halloween costumes for small children this year) but about pumpkins and a more low key celebration.

I need to borrow Carl’s phone, because mine is too full to take any more photos, and so all the photos I want to illustrate this post with are on his phone. But on Saturday, we went to the Beth Chatto Gardens near Colchester and did their pumpkin hunt. They had hidden a number of carved pumpkins around the gardens, and gave you a map. Each pumpkin had a rubber stamp with it which you used to mark your map. When you completed it, you could pick a small prize. We had the loveliest time waking around the gardens in the hazy bright afternoon autumn light. Leaves drifted from the trees, and everything was so beautiful. Seeing ajessica start to run as she spotted another pumpkin, watching her concentrate as she stamped her map…it was a wonderful afternoon.

Yesterday morning, the soft play near us had a little event where the children were given ready carved pumpkins to decorate. Oh my, it was the first time Jessica has had free reign with the glitter and did she ever love it!

Then on the bus to visit Mum. I still can’t quite get used to Dad not being there any more. Jessica helped mum decorate her porch with pumpkins and candles while I cut up squares of orang and black crepe paper and filled them with little bundles of sweeties. When trick or treaters knocked at the door, I held the basket and Jessica gave out the bundles. I thought she might find it a bit hard giving them away, but she knew she had a bundle of her own waiting for her, and she just loved it. She waved goodbye to the trick or treaters, calling ‘nice to see you!’ And ‘happy hello beans!’ 

Each time the door knocked, she was so excited she jumped up and down. When there was a lull, she shouted through the letterbox ‘come on other ones, come on!’

This for me will always be Halloween, a small child jumping with joy, eyes sparkling, curls bouncing. Crepe paper bundles of sweeties in a basket, pumpkins and candles. Sweet, gentle joys. Time with my Mum, time together.

When Carl came after work, Jessica thought he was another trick-or-treater…she came running through saying ‘My Daddy, I found MY Daddy!’

Home cooked dinner…oh how I miss my Mums cooking! Chicken casserole and dumplings with white pepper…delicious! And a drive home through swirling mist with a sleeping toddler in the back of the car.

I hope you had the happiest of Hello Beans!

Autumn Mantle

I was watching a video post in Facebook earlier this week, and the lady posed a question about our skin care routines. If they weren’t what they once were, she suggested, it can be an indicator that our self care is starting to slide, and we are putting ourselves to the bottom of the pile.

It struck a chord. Somewhere along the way I have gone from a double cleanse, tone, moisturiser, sometimes serum, occasional mask to a cleansing wipe, hot flannel and a dab of moisturiser before falling asleep.

It is so easy to slide to the bottom of our own to-do lists. If anyone is going to have a freshly made nutritionally balanced lunch, it will be Jessica. That doesn’t exclude me from having one, but where I pack up Carl’s first thing, then make hers, there is just less time and energy for me.

Just before I dozed off on the sofa last night, I realised that the mantelpiece I used to love arranging with seasonal displays has been neglected. Sympathy cards from my Dad’s passing were there, and nothing had been changed around in a while. Making those little displays is self care for me, a way to exercise a little creativity, a way to acknowledge the changing seasons, and give myself something pleasing to look at in the evening.

So after dropping Jessica at nursery this morning, I cleared everything off, dusted, rearranged. I’ve lit a candle even though I am here alone, and I am pleased with the result. 

I’ll collect some autumn leaves with Jessica later, and make a pretty garland to hang to finish it off. 

 
I can’t decide if I want to hang it from the picture rail. Out of Jessica’s reach, or from the bottom of the mantelpiece. We’ll see how it goes later!

Changing the calendar and daily peg doll with Jessica is something else which has slipped lately, so I will be getting back into that too.

For now though, I am going to sit down with a cup of tea and enjoy a few quiet minutes with my new mantlescape!

Tea and Toast at 3:00am

The world, it seems, is softly sleeping. The thin hours of the morning, and all is dark, except for the tiniest of lights in our living room. Snuggled under a duvet in the sofa is Jessica. She has woken cryin every twenty minutes or so, been into our bed, into her bed, back and forwards, and finally asked to come downstairs. 

I’ve made her a little snugly nest, and settled down to watch over her. There has been tea and toast even though it is 3:00am. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but is sitting slightly uneasily in my tummy now.

We buried my Dad’s ashes today. So much has happened and changed since I was here last. I never meant to be away so long. I was just tired one night, then the next, and the next. Suddenly it seemed hard to come back.

I’ve written many a post in my head,formed the words, but they have just quietly drifted away. I’ve come to realise that for me, at least, blogging is cyclical with fallow periods and fruitful ones. As we enter the autumn days of harvest, I hope and feel that words will blossom here again.

That toddler of 19 months I wrote of in January is now 28 months! She chatters away to me, is so full of life and light, and although she has her moments, generally she is a delight. She is all bouncing blond curls, in constant motion. She loves to snuggle with a book, to run and to climb, and just recently has taken to softly singing nursery rhymes to herself.

That baby niece of mine I posted about in January is perfectly delicious, with the biggest eyes like melted chocolate, and at the weekend made it halfway up the stairs at Grandma’s house in the blink of an eye.

Grandma’s house is now just that. Not Grandma and Grandad’s anymore. It has been the strangest time. Dad’s dementia and Parkinson’s were getting worse, and he seemed to give up on life,whilst draining it out of my poor Mum. Social services arranged for respite care so she could have a desperately needed break. He never came home. He went into hospital after refusing to get out if bed, or eat, or drink. Days passed. The consultant, the kindest man,said sadly he had tried everything and could do no more. The hospital phoned to say come. We did. And waited. Hours stretched and melted and collapsed into each other. In the end, there was the silence of time pausing and passing, then a last breath, and away.

Jessica collected so many conkers from the church car park today. We buried Dad’s ashes in his parent’s grave. It seemed fitting that the should be together again. It is a beautiful place, where he grew up. A little country village in full autumn bloom. I love that Jessica adores acorns and conkers and leaves and sticks. She absorbs so much. She can count to ten in words, and two and three in actual things, knows her colours, but best of all is developing an appreciation for autumn, for buttons and ribbons, for the little lovely things in life.

I visited Alexandra Palace this weekend just past, for the Knitting and Stitching Show. I listened to a talk by Jan Beany and Jean Littlejohn, two wonderful embroiderer artists. One of them said she is asked sometimes why she has creates a piece – her work is beautiful and interpretative but not practical – and she replied ‘because I can, and because I want to’. Wise words to think on there. They shared so much of their creative process, from the original idea to visits and excursions, their sketchbooks, rough designs, and the finished piece. It has given me a lot to think about.

We have a new branch of Foyles bookshop opened in town. The most glorious thing is you can smell it before you can see it! I thought perhaps at first I was imagining it, but several other people have remarked upon it. That unmistakeable scent of book.

I think perhaps, I need more tea.

Welcome, Little One

Today I have been reliving some special moments from 19 months ago. How can my little tiny baby be a toddler who says ‘lemon’ and ‘dinosaur’?! But I have another reason today for my trip down memory lane, not just that Jessica has turned another month older.

Today my wonderful sister and her husband welcomed this little girl into the world!

  
I remember so well that newborn purple colour, the feeling of surreal bliss at finally having your baby in your arms. That moment where everything changes in a heartbeat. That eternity when they look into your eyes for the first time.

Sending all our love to Macy Grace, her mummy and her daddy. 

Waiting…

ay Today is a very special day. As I type, my lovely sister is in hospital, awaiting the birth of her first baby. It feels so funny to be going about our daily lives while hers is about to change forever in the most wonderful way.

I’m working through a short ecourse called Make Over Your Mornings. I’m only a day in, and this wasn’t covered, but it inspired me to do it anyway – after I washed up the dinner things last night, I made Carl’s lunch and put it in the fridge ready for this morning. It saved me a few minutes this morning, but more importantly than the time itself, it has made me feel organized which is lovely!

I haven’t signed up for Fly Lady as I’ve done it a few times in the last and find the sheer volume of emails overwhelming and alienating. Inspired by a post over at Attic24 though, I am going to start doing 15 minutes a day in whichever ‘zone’ she is in. This week, the kitchen. I read her suggestion for Tupperware – storing all the lids in a ziplock bag. I think that could be really useful as however often I tidy out that cupboard, I always seem to end up with boxes and lids which just do not fit!

I’ve also signed up for the ‘Sophie and Max’ series over at Entangled Heart.