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Dammit, I’m so far behind and I’ve got photos of things to take as well. In fact, I’m so far behind that I might need my friends to remind me where I’ve been or I’ll forget what I’ve forgotten.

Amelie & Fran’s comp.

Fran’s comp.

Maddy’s TKD successes.

Josie’s wobble

Josie’s birthday and party.

Art day. (Done, except one photo)

History day.

Car making.

Halloween & party.

Dammit – other art day (fish)

Art from Latin etc day.

I’ll try and catch up between now and a few days time but I’m NaNo-ing and knitting like a mad thing so blogging is a bit down my list of things to do – argh!

Keeping Busy Craftily

A side effect of this week being busier was that I got less knitting done, but I’m pleased with what I’ve achieved through the week overall. I managed two squares last week but only one this week, the red, orange and yellow one. Annoyed by my failure with tension down the middle of it though. Last weeks were the blue rainbow and one of the blue squares. 14 squares does not a blanket make but 12 is roughly the size of Freddie’s blanket. I’m thinking that 4 times 16 might actually be not much less than a blanket and that maybe I won’t actually need 140 after all. Now I’ve got more colours, it looks less discordant to have so much together. I think it will need to have alternate plain colours to look okay but perhaps the rainbow effect will be okay. If not, I guess I’ll end up with more than one blanket! I’m edging each one with a crochet in inky black as I go. It has a strange sort of mourning ritual to it which I quite like but actually it will just make it easier to stitch them all together.

Blanket Bits

The costumes blogged below were definitely worthy of a creativity badge this week. They owe a lot more to my ex-stage manager days in that they are costume not clothing and a bit of a bodge (Billy Haynes, you’d be proud of me!) but I designed the cloaks myself and what they lack in seamstress-ness they make up for in wardrobe mistress-ness :lol: I really loved Maddy’s the most, as it is quite good but this photo of Fran is properly spooky!

Spooky Morgana

I’m properly proud of this tree picture too, which is the first thing apart from my family tree that I like well enough to think I’d actually put it for sale and not be mortified.

Framed Cherry Tree

I need to wait for some linen to come to back it and frame it for real but I’m pleased to feel my knack for at least making things look good has started to come back.

Lastly, I’m setting about NaNoWriMo which I last did in perhaps 2005 – we didn’t live here anyway, so it must be at least then. I think I had Josie, but I’m not absolutely sure. I’m making no promises to keep at it or to finish because November is such a hectic month for us and it is going to mean getting up early and trying to write a bit everyday then and catch up at weekends, but I need, badly, to write again and so this will at least be a prompt to try. I’m going to be so cheesed off if I die before I can say I’m a published writer and the only way to make that happen is to do it. The girls are giving it a go, so I need to do so as well, or I can’t really complain if they don’t keep at it.

What can I say? Yes, I’m diverting myself a lot but honestly it has to be better than crying.

Continuing on a theme…

We’ve possibly been having a mini-half term here – we’ll probably have one next week too, so perhaps we’re a private school ;)

Yesterday we had S and P here for the day; all the kids did some stuff round the table in the morning, some mathletics and mine did music and they played for the rest of the day, mostly with Biscuit, the new rabbit and also rehearsing a dance they want to enter a talent show with. There had been a greater plan but I had woken up from a night of nightmares and was a bit slow getting started and had also forgotten a rep and a doctor visit, which took chunks out of the day. But they seemed to play happily for most of it, so it was enjoyable.

That was one thing to be pleased about; I didn’t do a good job of engaging, but I did manage to have 6 kids here and get them to do something minimally meaningful and have fun. Expanding my borders into new territories again.

The girls all had health checks at our new surgery and passed, except for Amelie who is in the grip of an asthma/eczema relapse; in fact she and Josie both need to reduce their milk intake again. Josie has been on Minadex for the last week after going very skinny and white since having Chicken Pox.

This morning we were looking at a bmi calculator; all the girls are in the healthy weight range but all in very different ways. Josie is ‘almost’ underweight, Amelie and Fran are mid range and Maddy closer to the top end. We had a good chat about the reasons for this (height, weight, age, muscle etc) and why it was fine to be anywhere on that range, manipulating it to look at how an inch or a kilo could change it dramatically. Lots to take note of and learn there with a bunch of girls of the ages they are.

Reasons to be cheerful Two: with my own weight and body image issues, which were well under way when I was 7-8, I think I can be really pleased to have 4 fit, healthy and active daughters.

Three: I wrapped the wire on a bead I bought the other week and did quite a good job; it’s a little glass acorn bead and I love it – it’s a slightly smaller ‘Freddie necklace’ to wear and I love it for more discreet memory wearing.

Finished knitting my blue rainbow square. Four.

Wrote a tutorial for making the Fimo Tree I did with the kids last week. That’s five.

Six. This is quite a biggy; I’ve got past (definitely) the ovulating part of this months cycle without peeing on a single ovulation stick. This was a major challenge this month, part of my ‘I will not obsess’ declaration. I did it. Unfortunately I’m not sure this will have been that good for our ttc attempts, but hey… what is? :roll:

Edited to add another. I submitted the ‘poem’ I wrote a month or so back to StillLife365 and it was published today. There is a link within the post to the very beautiful reading that Jess did of it too. Thank you both.

And lastly, something that just gave me a warm feeling; Jenn did this for us on the 15th October. I love it. I’m bowled over, again and again, by the kind, thoughtful and gentle things that people do to remind us that Freddie is not forgotten. People we know, people we don’t. Just so kind.


Oh, to wear my heart on my sleeve

Six months ago today, our little boy died. 11 days was not enough.

Twice in the last few days, people have, meaning to be kind given me their condolences and said “sorry to mention it, you must not want to think about it.”

But I do. I think of ‘it’, of him, all the time. What I ache to do, is speak of him.

I wish it were expected of me to wear black. I wish I had an armband to wear. I wish I was supposed to mourn, not just grieve. I wish there was something about me that meant everyone who saw me would think “my god, her baby died”. I wish there were a badge to wear that meant that women would come up to me, lay their hand on my arm and say “it happened to me too”.

There are badges and necklaces for many things, for miscarriages and lost potential life. But what of the actual lives, the ones with birth and death certificates, with breath and last breath and clothes and memory boxes. Ironically I find that miscarriage is almost more acknowledged than neonatal death. When I was invited to a baby loss service, it was actually exclusively for babies lost during pregnancy, not for me or Freddie at all.

I want to have something which says “My baby died and I am proud of him, aching for him, lost without him – speak of him, damn you”.

So, knitting my rainbow square for this day, I knitted myself a mourning band too. I’m wondering actually if I might have some rainbow wristbands made.

“My baby died. Speak to me.”

If I do, I’ll send them to every maternity unit in the country.

Dreams are never free

I’ve been a bit off blogging about the endless, wearying aftermath of trying to come to terms with life through a new lens. Various things caused it but the effect of it has been bad; if I don’t write it down, it washes around my head and causes me pain. In the same way my biking stopped abruptly the other week – I suspect the two stops together amounted to some kind of subconscious self harming. I don’t know why I’d do that to myself. And if I don’t write here, I don’t write. I think there is a bit of journalist in my perhaps, a genetic requirement to write for viewing. And I hate having one blog for this and one for that – it feels divisive and I refuse to do it again.

All this started, as things are wont to do, with an unintended moment of unfortunate-ness that somehow robbed me of feeling I was still allowed to grieve. My process. My inability to see that the only thing that really matters is what I need to do to recover. Made me feel like I should be over it. Made me feel as if for being dead, Freddie was less than nothing, less even than the tiny bits I have to hold on to. It was unintentional, accidental – but it removed my ability to claim the space which is “my son died recently and I’m sad”. Grieving is a delicate balance of many things, especially when done as publicly as living in a house with 5 other people who are there ALL. THE. TIME. There is just no space to grieve. If I assign time to it, the pain that is caused cannot be acknowledged and exorcised in the time available. I can’t start crying, I can’t roll in a ball and sob, because there is no time to do so and the ripples cause other people, little people, pain and fear. I’ve got precious few places, people or times to do what needs to be done. If one of those gets ripped up, if the tiny, delicate portions of space that are places where Freddie is real, my real, once living, breathing son, get paved over, then I’m left in a terrible place.

There are many contrasts in child loss – I envy people who get to grieve for their firstborn, because I envy the space and the right to sink downwards, while knowing how much worse it would be not to have the girls to pull me along. I’m envied for having had a child who lived long enough for me to love him and I know that is indeed lucky, while knowing I had to let a little person go who I had learned to love, who had medical notes and chances and hopes and milk that I made for him. Nothing is simple.

It’s hard to explain how complicated it is to live inside a head that can’t be pleased and a body that reacts physically to the reality of someone not existing.

Then the counsellor I’m seeing chose that week to pull down all my defences and that, hard on the heels of the weekend away, caused me to come apart in handfuls of something dry, broken and formless. I might as well have been one of those cubes of compressed sawdust: tear off the plastic, kick me and lo! I’m not rectangle at all, just a pile of leftovers.

The next day there was a bit of a local disturbance that upset me hugely and made me feel very vulnerable, Max went away for a very long week, I went away for a long (lovely) weekend, I did two long drives, faced a baby, did a lot of running away and by the time I got back I was utterly incapable of doing anything other than sob for a very long time indeed. About a week in fact.

I thought that would be a good time to knit a blanket square in three tones of blue, that turned out to look just like a little boy jumper. I sobbed through nearly the whole square. I should have stopped knitting it. I didn’t, because it didn’t occur to me that it would make sense to do so.

I’m reached a new phase, one I’m going to have to do alone. We’ve all grieved; Max, the girls, me, all of us who met him, knew of him, hoped for him. I’m still grieving, but what has seeped in in the last week is that now I’m also mourning. The rest here, I think, are not.

Freddie was my rescue package. I needed him terribly, long before he was a twinkle or a baby. I needed him. I had a really dreadful few years and then finally he was coming and I began to heal from stuff that had ripped me into shreds. As I became more pregnant, I began to look forward to a life of being whole again, of having myself back, of not being sad any more. The happy ending was coming and Freddie was the process and to be the beautiful wanted end package too. A lovely child who started off as a means to an end and ended as something we all wanted so much.

On top of mourning for him, the little person, our son, that future and everything he should have been, I’m mourning for the hope that I’d be myself again. Some of what I needed I got, but the victory is hollow, just so hollow because there is a person gone. One who squeezed my finger, someone with a birth certificate and a death certificate, someone who had bottles of milk in a freezer that a nurse must have thrown away. I’m mourning for a future, a person, a self I wanted back, the innocence of thinking things could be okay. A baby. A little boy. A future that might never have had all this that I have to learn to slide away from, not look at.

I know in a couple of years, with or without any more children, that this will be easier. I just want to be at that point already. If grief is a cornfield, then I’ve tramped it down once and I resent that I have to do it again. I resent that I can’t do it faster. I hate that recovering from Freddie is something I have to do, that I have to learn to love him less, not celebrate him, not speak of him, not look back too long at his lovely little face and his gorgeous little body. That his birthday, one of the most amazing moments of my life, is something that it is only sensible to forget and consign to history. That it will be easier for everyone else if I just move on, let it go, let him go.

And that is why I’ve not been able to write. Because I can’t face the fact that the sensible thing, the convenient thing is to move on now. Let this part of my life go. Stop having babies, not be mother to a boy. It just hurts so much that I wish I could go to sleep and never wake up.


Damn. I’m all behind again.

We’ve had a good few weeks anyway; the homework diaries work really well still. Everyone likes it, everyone is busy and occupied (well, except Amelie who is converting education avoidance into an art form :roll: ) I regularly depress myself with the fact that the girls do not get the amazing, different every day, awe-inspiring education that I thought I would offer but in all honesty, there isn’t time. We can’t do, afford or fit in everything and they are kids who love their sport. So to afford that and get to it all, the education, I think, is humdrum but more or less effective. I wish it was spectacular but it is at least efficient.

Fran finished the biology section of her GP Science 1 book (only actually noticed it was a biology section when Alison pointed it out!) and has moved on to Chemistry. She and I sat down and mapped out the topics she’d covered and compared it to a KS3 and GCSE book, wrote a chart of the corresponding chapters and part of her work for the next month or so is going to be to read across the books and take each topic as far as she feels comfortable with.

Maddy has been working back through her history book and doing a pictorial and craft based round up. She’s pinning it all into a book and I’m going to let her get a visual feel for it and then help her complete it with a timeline at the end. She’s doing 3 or 4 activities for each period, cartoons, fimo models, quick representations, maps and more.

So for example:-

Stone age tools in Zoobs (call it ICT!)

Fimo Stonehenge.

The early civilisations history day we went to (thanks to Helenetc) was brilliant for this.

She was very happy with her bone, tooth and wood necklace. (Love Fimo!)

Today, cuneiform writing on a clay tablet.

Fran is deeply into her Latin and loving doing French. We’re using greetings around the home and she’s got GP to work through with Maddy and Tricolore to do on her own. She’s finished all the Judith Kerr books and moved on to Iva Ibbotson with a plan to read a couple of the slightly more adult ones she wrote soon. She’s very into WW2 literature at the moment. She’s still working on her ballet project and started looking at Degas, knitting like mad and forging through BBC Bitesize English and Science KS3 and Mathletics.

Other times, she does backwards walkovers on the dining room table.
Do your work at the table.

Amelie causes me much despair but as she masters anything I give her effortlessly, it is hard to do anything about it. She’s been doing fractions of various sorts and seems to have no trouble holding a chain of 3 or 4 elements in her head, using it wisely and swapping methods about to suit the sum, she is reading her way through a mass of books she’s chosen on various topics and is working so hard on her music, ready to do her grade 1 violin next term. Sometimes I worry she isn’t being driven hard enough but… well… :roll: I have to have something to worry about.

Josie is being adorable. She draws and writes constantly and is so full of excitement at being able to “do work”. She is loving Studydog, Education City, Mathletics and the various activities I set up for her and today she found a healthy eating leaflet, got interested in it and carefully sorted out her wooden food into the right sections.

Then she told me all about healthy eating based on what she’d learned from “Arthur” that morning :lol:

They all had fun last week researching the Greeks together and planning a project and today they did pen work with sheets from Art Projects for Kids which was surprisingly fun. They did the copy practise but then had fun making the shapes into pictures using their imagination and lots of felt tip pens :)

Creative every day

We’ve had a really tough week, more disappointment for us and other people I care about, difficult stuff at work and a week of the younger three girls playing SCBU and Labour Ward games with PlayMobil. They’ve been clearly testing me, checking to see how well I cope with their subject matter and it has been very hard. But we’ve also had emails, lovely emails, from friends old and new and much support from people who love us (I’ve not replied to them all but I will, sorry). But it has felt teeth grittingly difficult and my anxiety levels have gone through the ceiling. I’m trying very, very hard not to drain the people around me, but it is very hard not to.

And I had to clean my own house :roll: :lol:

I thought I would try to take up the Creative Every Day challenge, though whether I will do much of it, I have no idea. But I want to, even if it is just editing a picture or weeding a flower bed. Sometimes it might even be tidying up a section of a website I guess.

I imagine a lot of it will be the knitting of squares, real squares this time, not rectangles and bigger than on Freddie’s blanket. I’ve got a book and there is lots of inspiration on Flickr and I’ve even hunted around ravelry and I think I am going to enjoy myself.

This is me learning to knit vertical colour changes, not something I’ve done before. After a comment from Michelle below about incorporating Freddie’s blanket into our one, I thought that although I wasn’t sure I could do that, I might take the remains of wool from his blanket out of his memory box and knit it into our one in small places, spread across the whole thing. I feel comfortable with that idea and I think it will make me happy in the end. After all, they can’t do anything but be a fossil in his box really.

I’m not entirely sure the rest of the week has been worth blogging to any great extent; I was a basket case but the girls worked hard (Fran & Maddy) and played hard (Josie and Amelie). We made it to the end.

Pleased so far :)

First, the obligatory pox pic

Not too bad, not ill at all and tonight is night 3, so hopefully over the worst. It’s nearly at her ankles and wrists now, so hopefully the worst is over. Amazing the way it spreads like that!

I’ve done my piece of art to submit (it’s on flickr, I’ll blog it another time) and my square is nearly knitted. I’ve even relaxed and sorted out wellies into sensible categories on PlayMerrily. We have a lot of wellies :roll:

Fran has finished her scarf.

The knitting the ends in thing was a bit too much for her, so we’ll tassel it the whole way round to hide the tension wiggles and traily ends. I’m very impressed though – not often she finishes things. She wants to do a blanket next. :lol:

The house is in disarray and I’m about to shout – but no matter, we’ve been creative.

And the rest of February.

This time of year always seems to be a bit dull; maybe it is just me but i struggle to bring myself to rush about when it is cold, wet and horrible really. Not that i’m a great rusher anyway, but when you have to be out all evening for gym etc, dashing about in discomfort through the day feels like too much effort!

Forgot to mention in my last round up that i took the girls to see Holiday on Ice – Spirit on a whim one day. It was extremely near by and we’d had a tough few days and was good fun to watch. I laughed the most when the man doing a back somersault (on ice, wearing ice skates while going at 40mph) drew no more than criticism from Fran for technique :lol:

The big two girls worked very hard on getting their Egypt projects finished and were both pleased with what they achieved.

Maddy and Amelie have both made it through their maths chapters on multiplication and distinguished themselves, Maddy also working on square numbers. Amelie has also done a chapter on division, mostly using blocks but gradually getting more confident in working out in her head and seeing the relationships between numbers. Fran has been on a chapter using decimals and large thousands and moving on to large numbers where the sum has 3 parts. All of them have got on with learning their tables and we’re doing a weekly tables test to keep them on top of the knowledge. I know lots of schools no longer believe in rote learning, but i have to say that knowing my tables well has stood me in very good stead all my life and it is one of those things i really want to ensure my girls have.

We’re having a concerted attack on doing text booky type stuff while it is horrible, partly so they are finished and we can have a relaxed summer. Maddy restarted her English book, using a computer this time as written work stresses her so much, with a much greater success. Amelie was extremely reluctant to start GP1 English but sat beside me for the first comprehension and seemed to really enjoy it. She certainly did it very well; she has quite a logical, analytical mind and unlike the older two, is better at retaining instructions and so she stuck at it well and did it right.

Josie has been the real star of the fortnight, reading her way through several early Peter and Jane books and spending lots of time playing with letters.

She is really loving the whole reading thing at the moment and is proving to me that 4 children doesn’t mean you’ve seen all versions of learning to read. Fran and Maddy were reluctant to be taught, but needed teaching, but came to it gradually by 8ish. Amelie taught herself and was reading easily by 6ish, having used computer resources to learn. Josie appears to be very focused indeed on acquiring the skill, but wants to do it with me and wants me to guide her. I wonder which version (or new version) Titch will be?

She is also loving patterns…


(She does far more complex ones than this but notably, this was the first time i had seen her do this one where she used the number sequence to start it, rather than the picture)…

MoshiMonsters (so long as a big sister will help her learn the puzzles)…

…and Club Penguin.

The other massive thing she has been doing is sums – all she wants is pages of sums. I’ve been writing out 20 at a time, adding up to 20 and she can do them all. I’ve barely marked a single one wrong in the entire time. She does forget number 13 though, so whether working out n her head or with blocks, she tends to shout “what’s that number after 12?” which amuses me :lol:

I’m charged with buying her a maths book. Honestly, i tried so hard to teach the older two things at this age and then the younger ones beg me for knowledge when i want them to have a slow start and a longer play based childhood! :roll:

Fran’s started a new English Chapter – we’ll gloss over some of her notions of how a comprehension is supposed to be done. Suffice to say that her comprehension of the word comprehension was a little slim :roll: She did very well in the end, though she isn’t a child who feels reading the question is an important part of the process :lol:

Maddy has been doing science, Amelie has been reading something educational voraciously (can’t think what) and also more fairy books, Fran has finally moved off Tudor books and on to something else. She loves the GP reading lists that come with the chapters, so has started Theatre Shoes alongside Carrie’s War and a couple of others. (ROLLS EYES AGAIN!) Maddy has been back into the Celts and Romans.

After a particularly over emotional day the other day, e all sat and read a chapter on Eastern Civilisations together, which everyone got plenty from.

Big girls have been playing networked games of Civilisation II (sorry Ali!) with us.

Amelie has been doing loads of French Knitting following a trip to Hobbycraft. Fran doing more machine sewing and all doing Hama Beads.

We had a good science and French session where the bean experiential followed nicely from Fran’s GP chapter on experiment controls. French pleased all of them by stretching them after a journey where M,A and J tried to play a whole imaginative game in French, with reasonable success.

Very long conversational ed about sex, HIV, medical drug families, illegal drugs, risks and social effects of drug taking etc etc – all at dinner table. Was exhausted by the end of it!

Maddy loving Taekwondo.

Grading next week. She adores it and rugby is also going well.

Josie finally allowed someone to turn her upside down (Fran) in a supported flic and showed the gym coach.

Fran managed a baby giant at Thursday gym (woot!) and Amelie got Gymnast of the Month. She was thrilled :)

Really, despite lots of minor irritations, a good month with plenty achieved.