{Living Arrows 2015} 1/52

Or rather, 1/however many I actually manage to share.

And notice there that I said “share”. Not “take”.

Devoted readers may have noticed my tendency to start projects on this blog and not quite see them through. I started sharing a 365 project two years ago, but the photos fizzle out before the middle of the year. I joined in with the Living Arrows project last year but the posts stop less than six months in. Yet in both of these cases, I don’t consider that I really failed. The 365 project foiled me in the organisation and the sharing. In actually finding and editing the pictures and then getting them on to my bog in a relevant and timely way. Oh, and the old devil perfectionism, that haunts me. You know, feeling the photos weren’t good enough to share! But having gone back through my photos for that year since, I’ve identified just five days on which I did not take a photograph. Failure, no doubt, to some 365 purists, but given that I’d stopped motivating myself with the actual goal of completing the project, I think that was pretty impressive.

Likewise with Living Arrows, of course I have a picture of my son, or something related to him, representing his childhood, for every single one of the 52 weeks of last year.  I don’t need a challenge to ensure that happens. I can’t stop myself taking pictures of him and for him. No, I simply failed miserably at sharing them here in a timely manner.

So why am I trying again? I’m not sure, when the odds of success seem anything but in my favour. I think it’s mainly because I’d like this blog to be a bit of a one-stop archive, if only I can organise myself a bit better. I’d like to be able to look back through the edited “best bits” of our years in one place, rather than wading through digital folders stored ten deep to pick out my favourite memories.

And you’re only truly destined to fail if you never try in the first place.

The photo I’m sharing this week was taken at the cinema as we waited to see The Penguins of Madagascar. It eclipsed all others I’ve taken this week, despite the poor lighting and grainy quality of the phone snap, because it absolutely sums up Thomas’s personality. The head tilt, the cheeky wink and the accusatory finger admonishing me for taking a photo. This is absolutely Thomas, at age three and two months.

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My Sunday Photo – 4th January 2015

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I’ve read a lot of posts this week about the blogging goals or resolutions that people have set themselves for 2015. I haven’t written such a post (yet, we’ll have to see what happens there). But I have been found on Twitter lately discussing some of my feelings around blogging – and my blog in particular – and the way I feel like I struggle to fit in and find my place in this enormous community. And without community, blogging is not really much more than diary writing, that I could do by myself, at home, using some of the many pretty paper journals and scrapbooks that I have stashed away. The very fact that I publish this for people to see should be a clue that I would like at least a few people to see it. So my only really goal right now is to better attempt to engage myself in the community. To stop using a lack if time as an excuse. To stop getting bogged down about where my place is between the parents and the infertility community. To just be.

And here is where I’m starting. With a Sunday photograph.

Taken on  New Year’s Eve walk around our local lake, with a stop to feed the ducks. As it so often the case when wrangling both a camera and a small child, especially when mud, water and wild animals are involved, it’s not exactly the shot that I wish I could have captured. But there is something mysterious about the lingering mist on the distant trees. Something strong, promising and hopeful stored in the beat of that gull’s wings.

It’s a good place to start.

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(And thank you to all who recommended I join up with this Linky)

{Living Arrows} 6/52 – A Boy and His Stick

My new goal is to try and publish a Living Arrows photo at the start of the week when the linky opens, instead of always being the very last one, scraping in at the final minutes. But better late than never. And better a poorly composed phone snap than nothing at all!

This photo is significant for a really silly reason. See those things on Thomas’s feet? Yes, they’re wellies. Seems pretty ordinary, right? But this is the first time that Thomas has ever worn wellies without having a major meltdown. We’ve never understood exactly what he had against them, but no amount of stories with children splashing in puddles, or being told that he couldn’t splash in puddles until he wore his wellies seemed to help.In the end the answer was Thomas. The Tank Engine one. A pair of wellies with a picture of Thomas and he couldn’t wait to wear them and “splash in puddles Mummy”.

He found this stick whilst chasing the pigeons through the mud and wouldn’t put it down. He dragged it all the way home, stopping every few steps to hit is against a wall, or drag it along some railings. Best free outdoor fun we’ve had amongst all the appalling weather!

And after all, every boy needs a stick.

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{Living Arrows} 5/52 – Hands

Where other children may become attached to sucking their thumb or fingers, or to the pulling or stroking of a parent’s hair, Thomas has long found comfort in fingers and thumbs in a totally different way.

I think it began around the same time he stopped breast feeding. He would sit in my lap in the evenings, just before bath time – a time he had traditionally fed – and hold my hand, exploring the lines on my palm and tracing the outline of my fingers with his own. Before long, whenever he was distressed and wanted me, and before he could properly articulate the word “cuddle” he would reach for my hand. Not to hold in a traditional sense, but to bring close, to stroke and be soothed by.

He soon began to use his own hands if mine, or Ian’s, were not readily available. Whenever he is tired, upset or ill, I invariably catch him methodically stroking his own hands in a soft, rhythmic way. His favourite activity is to spread the fingers of one hand and stroke the ‘V’ formed by his middle two fingers. He is calmer and quieter engaged in this activity than even when offered a beloved comforter.

I’m pleased, in many ways, that the simple stroking of hands is such an important source of comfort to him. Hands, after all are almost always available and stroking them is much more discreet, and less potentially damaging from a dental point of view, than sucking them.

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{Living Arrows} 4/52 – Drawing

Thomas loves pens. Crayons don’t cut it for this boy. Nor pencils. He always wants a pen. He knows where we keep them, and stands looking imploringly upwards like a little lost puppy until we (invariably) give him and let him have one. And it’s usually a specific one that he wants too. Not just any pen will do!

His skills with a pen impress me, though. He mastered the tripod grip at about 14 months and has now progressed to drawing straight lines and circles which actually join back up with themselves. He scribbles over shapes that I draw for him, moving steadily towards proper colouring-in.

This picture captures perfectly the flash of concentration that passes across his face when he is “doing drawing”. That’s my boy, lying on his belly on the floor, focused entirely on the task at hand.

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Me and Mine – September

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We have a gatecrasher in our Me and Mine photo this month – my big brother, who lives almost half a world away on the west coast of the USA. The distance between us means we don’t see nearly enough of each other because it’s a long flight for a little boy who can’t sit still. Even the eight hour time distance makes the windows of time for phone calls and Skypeing rather narrow. I wish he got to spend more time with his nephew, and that Thomas saw more of his uncle. I obviously wish I saw more of my brother, as he’s the only one I’ve got.

His visit was fun. He was quickly inducted in to the world of toddler Thomas, including making tunnels on restaurant tables for trains to drive through, hours of pushing on the swings, reading endless stories and drawing trains on demand. My brother left knowing many more of the characters from Thomas & Friends than he did when he arrived. Thomas consistently mispronounced his uncle’s name in a very endearing way. And to complete the experience, had a nappy leak in his lap. Well, you don’t know toddlers until you’ve had that happen, right?!

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The rest of the month has been busy too. Following on from last month’s Me and Mine, I’ve seized opportunity and possibly tempted fate by treating myself to lovely new clothes, including new jeans which clearly won’t fit for long if I do fall pregnant. I’ve agreed to a change I my working patterns from the beginning of next year that will secure me more income. It will also secure me a better maternity package if I do fall pregnant, but probably won’t be practical to sustain on my return to work from maternity leave. So we’ll just have to see. We’ve also booked a family break to Center Parcs next spring, and pre-booked cycle hire despite the fact that if I fell pregnant now, I’d have a six month bump and almost certainly not be the right shape for riding a bike.

And perhaps most importantly of all, we’ve started the process of fertility testing to search out a reason, if one exists, for why I’m not falling pregnant. Simply getting the ball rolling has made me feel more positive that one day our family photos will contain another little person.

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dear beautiful