Thursday, 28 February 2013
When I lost my first baby, my little boy who was born sleeping, there was a lot of anger and questions... My whole being screamed "No!" and "Why?"
Here are my reflections on grief and faith, and acceptance. I don't pretend to want to give answers to anybody. These are just the answers I found for myself and that I have been wishing to share for a while.
One significant moment surrounding the loss of my first baby was a prayer meeting in our parish. The text was about Jesus's death and the words He cried to His Father "My God! Why have you abandoned me?" When I read this I burst into tears. It was so much like what I was feeling at the time.
I then rediscovered something that is at the core of my faith : we are free. We are free to make choices, the most important one being to believe in God or not. I think that God, as our Father, does exactly what fathers do : letting their children being their own persons, making their own choices and mistakes, willing them to be healthy and unhurt but not having the means to guarantee it. The difference of course is that God would have the means to keep us healthy and unhurt, but then we would have to believe in him, if only the very old or wicked died... And I don't believe that God 'sends' us trials or 'lets' things happen to us. I believe that he gives us Life, the whole of it, the good and bad, and things in Life sometimes just happen. And He knows, because His own Son came to this life and suffered so much, and died so young too.
Good things though, Graces, Blessings, I believe He gives to us. For me it was a shooting star, the first flight of swans I ever saw, a little owl perched on a gate in the early morning, clouds that looked like a baby, a particularly beautiful sunset, a kind word from a stranger, a new friend.
Even believing this doesn't make it any easier to accept that your baby dies... But for me, it brought acceptance, eventually. I often thought that my babies who were born sleeping were born somewhere else. They were not born to this life but to Life with God and in a way accepting this was like labour : painful and long but if I accepted the pain and offered it to God, it would at least be lived with more peace. That's what happened when I lost my second son, 6 years after his brother. I had already accepted, or maybe I reached acceptance just then,. and instead of being kicking and screaming inside I just waited until it passed.
My second daughter went through a phase of wondering about death and being scared. What I told her is that yes every body dies at some point, lots of people when they are really old, like her great grandmother who was 99 (!) but then in our family we believe in God and we believe that we live forever with Him and all the people we have loved and lost, including her two brothers, and her great grandmother, and her guinea pig Fluffy!
And this is quite important too for me, the promise, or the hope, of EternalLlife. It's so very big, Eternity, and our lives are so very small compared to it, whether we live 100 seconds or a hundred years...
Tuesday, 26 February 2013
This week DS is potty training. To be honest I was starting to despair that it would ever happen!
It had been constantly delayed : The birth of his baby sister, a bad gastro enteritis that lasted more than 4 weeks and meant constant diarrhea, plus subsequent concern that he might be dairy intolerant, and just plain, complete and utter lack of interest on his side!
But having now reached the age of four, the start of school looming not far ahead and his key worker having flagged that she couldn't move his targets while he was still in nappies... We thought it was time.
And we've been pulling all the stops to motivate him. So today it's the Little Train cupcakes. It's not exactly as I saw it in my mind... I forgot to buy icing sugar when I was shopping so I had to use what I had at home, Demerara sugar, so the grass had a bit of a... tinge! The shop didn't have any liquorice laces and I had to do the tracks in strawberry ones... But still, DS liked it!
For the cupcakes I used :
6 oz flour
6 oz sugar (a mix of white and demarara as I ran out of white!)
1 tsp baking powder
1 drop vanilla essence
6 oz margarine
For the butter icing :
8 oz Icing (or so it should have been) sugar
3 oz butter
The train and tender are made of millionaire shortbread and liquorice all sorts.
Monday, 25 February 2013
Looking after four children is fine, honestly. Until the youngest one gets poorly... And then it's mayhem!!!
DB started having a high temperature the Tuesday of half term. Luckily DH had that day off so it was ok. The day after DD2 was off to a friend's house for a sleepover so that was fine too.
It's on the day of the biscuits, Friday, that all hell broke loose... DB was really grumpy, feverish and tired in the morning and the other three were getting bored and needed attention. Endless siblings fights ensued and I got more and more frustrated as neither of them was listening to me and I couldn't do anything, sitting on the sofa, trying to allow DB to have some sleep.
So I felt it was no small achievement to take this picture: table clean, biscuit dough whipped up and shared, flour sprinkled, oven warming up. All between lunchtime and DB's appointment at the Doctor's, at which point one of my lovely neighbours was coming to look after the older three and have her share of biscuits, while I would for once be thankful for the doctor's appointment being half an hour late!
Sunday, 24 February 2013
Savoury cake is something of a tradition in my family as my grandmother used to make it.
She had a bit of land, including half of a small hill at the back of her garden! When on holiday at her house, in Gers, we would pack a picnic with a cake salé, climb up the hill and have our picnic with a view onto Auch and its cathedral. Then my brother and I would go down the hill running a fast as we could!
Savoury cake is great for picnics, buffets or brunch or even high tea. And the recipe could not be simpler!
I basically always use the same recipe, just changing the 'filling'. There are as many different combinations possible as what takes your fancy!
For 6 :
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetal oil
about 8 oz grated cheese
Today I added olives and ham but you could do sundried tomatoes and black olives, mushrooms and garlic, pepper and chilli, figs and walnuts, pesto (even better home made) and pine nuts, etc.
If you can it's nice to leave it 24h before eating it (which I rarely manage!).
You can do a vegan version with a soya or other dairy free milk (although I find the rice one a bit too 'thin') and egg replacement powder (I like to add two tbsp of milk per spoon of egg replacement powder, rather than water).
You can also do a gluten free one with half cornflour and half rice flour.
Taking a picture was a bit tricky as 1) I forgot to check if the cake was cooked and it was still just a little bit gooey 2) DH decided to take it out of the tin, turned it over and shook until it came off, that is until the inside fell down in a mess... I put it all back in and finished cooking it but it would never be the same again...!
Saturday, 23 February 2013
That's our wall, in the dining room, next to the door to the sitting room. DS had drawn on it a while ago, then DD1 wrote his name and age next to it !
I think new doodles have appeared since then so... We might as well wait until they all have grown our of it before painting over it!
Friday, 22 February 2013
Last week end was DD2's birthday. To celebrate she was allowed to have two friends for a sleepover and the day after we all (me, DH, our four children and the two friends) went bowling and have lunch at Mc Donald's.
On the picture we had just crossed the road (these are the stairs to go onto the bridge above the road) to get to the bus stop. The surroundings were not particularly cheerful but I thought all the blue balloons were !
Yes we indeed went on the bus as our London Taxi was still in the garage, the mechanics trying to dry off the engine (another story!) so they could do the necessary repairs. And... we lost one of the buggy's wheels on the bus!! It must have got caught in the luggage rack when we got off and we only realised as the bus was going away. I have tried several times to call the station central office but apparently nothing was found...
Anyway, we still had a nice time, although it was harder work than doing the same thing for DD1 (she's 10, her sister 8). Such a difference of maturity within only two years! One of DD2's friends in particular was wearing DH's patience very thin, having a bit of an 'attitude'!
Fun memories ;)
I'm linking up with Louise LLoyd's Photo of the Week !
Wednesday, 20 February 2013
Tuesday, 19 February 2013
Monday, 18 February 2013
Funnily enough he doesn't actually like cakes, but since I've bought a doughnuts tin and we put some of the mixture in it he likes eating his 'cake doughnuts'! It's a nice thing to do while his older sisters are at school and they get fairy cakes for school pick up.
It's strange... I don't remember enjoying doing that as much with his older sisters... Maybe I have a more relaxed attitude to the mess ensuing and the edible state of the finished product. Maybe he listens more. Maybe the circumstances are more favourable (when DD1 was 4 her sister was 2 and wanting to join in and when DD2 was 4 I had a newborn).
Whatever it is, it's a time to enjoy!
I'm linking up with Sarah Miles' Monday Club
Friday, 15 February 2013
Tuesday, 12 February 2013
I often shy away from reading blogs that tell a story of child loss. It touches a personal pain easily awaken again...
But for some reason I started reading Jennie's blog, Edspire, and the heartbreaking story of how her little girl, Matilda Mae, died in the night.
Once I started reading I could not stop. The thing is that Jennie writes with so much love for her baby girl that it makes very compelling reading.
I don't know Jennie. I didn't even know her blog but I haven't been able to stop thinking about her and her family. I have been reading her tweets as she went through reliving the tragedy, a week later, as she had to make plan for her baby's funeral. And I prayed and cried.
Today I would like to dedicate the following story to Matilda Mae. It's about the beauty all around us and it made me think of her.
In this story I wanted to talk about the quintessence of beauty.
Last week I found it in a mum's love for her baby and in her baby's life. And I believe that this mum holds the beauty of her daughter's life in her heart.
Monday, 11 February 2013
DB is now 16 months, just between leaving babyhood and becoming a toddler, although she actually doesn't show that much inclination for walking! I just love that stage of duality, of baby cuddles and first words, first steps, flashes of her evolving personnality.
She still wants to be held a lot and doesn't like me leaving her but shows independance in wanting to climb the stairs hersef, rather than being carried, insisting on eating on her own, spoon and fork at hand (she's even quite good at using them) and drinking from an open cup. She very much plays on her status of being the family's baby where her brother and sisters are concerned but will very well defend herself if I am not around andalready shows signs of wanting to boss them around.
It's just fascinating and highly amusing to observe her.
And she's still very cuddly, ready to laugh and delightfully excited when Daddy comes home.
This picture of her just perfectly portrays this stage, I think. She had fallen asleep while feeding and eating a lolly pop! Sweet dreams, litterally :)
Friday, 8 February 2013
DS was quite little he fell in love with one of his big sisters' teddies, a green, brown and black cameo teddy. He loved it so much that I got him the same one. After all he didn't have a teddy at the time and I think that every child should own at least one teddy!
Since then a blue little dog has somewhat replaced Teddy in my son's affections. But the other day he had climbed in his big sister's bed and, seeing her bear, remembered his and took it to nursery school.That's when I got this shot of DS carrying his teddy on his shoulders, just like DH carries him on his shoulders.
Thursday, 7 February 2013
I hesitated before choosing today's subject for my picture...
I thought first of our London taxi but at this exact moment it's unfortunately more of a pain in the backside than our pride and joy... What seemed like an easy thing to fix is taking gargantuan proportions and the fact is that we haven't been able to drive anywhere for weeks now...
I thought of our Phil and Ted buggy. Acquired when it was a rarity 8 years ago it was my pride and joy, but it's really a bit of a has-been nowadays and well passed its prime.
So here is my violin... I bought it in my early twenties. I was then working as a 'correspondant' for the local rag, the cheapest life form of journalist there is (I must have started being paid the equivalent of 1.2 p a line!!). I had very little money but plenty of time and energy. I took to sea kayaking, theatre, story telling and, after nearly 20 years of piano, violin. I first rented my instrument, then bought it. It wasn't really for sale but the guy from the music shop, who was a true music passionate, refused to sell me the basic study instrument I could buy with my budget. Instead he offered me to buy my rental, this simple but in my eyes absolutely beautiful violin from the early 20th century.
I played it then, 3 our 4 years, passed two grades. Then I stopped, had loads of children, and now that my youngest is nearly 18 months I've decided to bring back to life my beautiful, silent for too long, violin and restore it to being my Pride and Joy...
Wednesday, 6 February 2013
Monday, 4 February 2013
Sunday, 3 February 2013
"Etre dans la lune" means to have your head in the clouds but translates literally as To be in the moon.
I was going to make a pot of tea. I boiled the water, put the bag in, started to pour the boiling water and realised that this was what I had done...!
The picture doesn't do it justice (it's hung opposite of the top of a flight of stairs with no natural light!) but this is a lovely drawing of a fishing boat by moonlight.
I don't even know who's the artist. It's an heirloom from an old priest who was both our landlord and neighbour.
My mum used to bring him his meals when he got old. He was of a family of five I think and every one of them had either embraced church or monastic life!
It's only years later (I must have been 19 when he died) that I realised what a lovely and interesting man he was.
We shared his garden but he left us the sole use of it, including the old apple trees that grew such delicious fruits.
Once my brother and I broke a glass of his conservatory with a tennis ball but he didn't get at all cross.
He was a very gentle soul and never raised his voice.
I'm really glad I've got this drawing to remember him!
Saturday, 2 February 2013
When I was little pancakes were sometimes a treat for our 'goûter' at around 4 o'clock. Then we had tea at 8.30. But with our children we've adopted the 5 o'clock teatime so they don't have a big afternoon snack like we did.
In our house pancakes are a regular meal. We have them with ham and cheese, bacon, sausages, anything really. The little ones are generally quite quick to switch to jam and chocolate spread!
I once tried to make pancakes for a 'goûter', my children didn't understand at all and thought we were having an early tea!
Pancakes were also a popular stall at school and village fetes. I remember being in charge of such a stall in my school when I was maybe thirteen our fourteen. Fond memories!
In France the 2nd of February is called Chandeleur and, like Shrove Tuesday, it's a pancake day! We'll have savoury pancakes and sweet pancakes.
The little ones like bacon or sausages in theirs. For DH and me I've prepared this colourful winter vegetables stir fry.
For sweets I like a simple butter and sugar but DD 1 and 2 have gone to the shops to get Nutella and butterscotch Angeldelight!