{Living Arrows 2015} 3/52

IMG_7154

“Cheeeeeeeeeeeese”

Look at that face! Just look!

This is the face that Thomas will pull if you are foolish enough, as I was, to ask him to smile for the camera.

I don’t delete these images. Nor the ones that are out of focus. Or where, despite the fastest shutter speed possible in the given light, Thomas is little more than a blur of colourful clothes. I don’t delete them because one day, I’ll look back at those pictures and remember just how difficult it was to photograph my son as a toddler and pre-schooler. All of these less than perfect shots capture exactly who he is right now, at this point in his life. The never-sitting-still, ants-in-his-pants bundle of completely over-enthusiastic energy. That’s him. And the only possible way to truly capture his essence is in poorly timed, poorly focused images.

I also don’t delete then because when he’s a sullen teenager who won’t let me get near him with the camera at all, I’m sure I’ll laugh about how much disliked this stage in photographic terms!

And quality aside, this is the face that wakes me up each morning. That greets me after a long day at work. That tells me a hundred things with hundred different expressions. It’s the face I’ll never get tired of seeing.

My boy.

Living Arrows

Feeding Ducks

New year’s Eve was a cold, grey and damp day with a mist that lingered well past lunchtime. It would have been an entirely miserable day had it not been for the promise of the new year just around the corner, and we must not forget that spring comes some time after that. The festive season had given us all a bit of cabin fever, despite the fact that I’d already been back to work and my boys had spent that particular day mostly at the park. But cabin fever we felt, so we set off for a walk.

IMG_7036

Or, in Thomas’s case, a bike ride. We headed, at his direction, for the local lake, nestled in woodland that begins just a few minutes from our front door.

Thomas wanted to feed the ducks.

Feeding the ducks has been a slow burner for Thomas. At first he hated it. He didn’t like these inquisitive, demanding and noisy birds. And he certainly didn’t want to share bread with them. Why do that when he could eat it himself?

But gradually, he warmed to the idea. We kept taking walks, making slow circuits of the lake without specifically stopping to feed the ducks. Gradually he liked to watch them, and imitate their quacking. Then he began watching others feeding them with curiosity. And finally, he wanted to do it himself. And now, it’s a favourite pastime. He asks to feed the ducks early some mornings. If we try to reign i his enthusiasm at such an early hour by telling him the ducks will still be asleep, he then pesters us every few minutes, enquiring “Are the ducks awake yet?”

The one thing he has never been keen on, however, is ducks and geese – especially the geese – who come too close. Early on in his duck feeding career, he’d run away, squealing in genuine fright. Boldness came with practice, but he’d still cling to my leg and say “go away ducky”. Gradually he’d allow me to feed them straight out of my hand, and when they chased after him his squeals transformed to ones of delight. It was a fun game.

New Year’s Eve, however, was a different story. Perhaps father Christmas had slipped some extra confidence in the toe of Thomas’s stocking this year. Or perhaps we’ve just allowed his confidence to build slowly and organically enough that it was inevitable that this moment would come.

He held out his hand, hesitantly at first, with a piece of bread for the closest bird. He was half turned away, and half hidden by my leg, protecting himself in case he needed to run. Yet he erupted in to infectious giggles when the bird gobbled the bread straight from his hand.

Moment later he offered another. And then another.

He was having the time of his life.

IMG_7060

IMG_7063

IMG_7064

IMG_7065

IMG_7067

IMG_7040

IMG_7041

 

Feeding the ducks is such a simple, ordinary and timeless pastime. Yet it still provides these milestones. These firsts. these reflections of how our little boy is changing and growing imperceptibly, but nevertheless undeniably, right in front of our very eyes.

IMG_7071

IMG_7073

IMG_7074

IMG_7080

 

mummy daddy me

My Sunday Photo – 4th January 2015

Sun4thJan2015

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.

OneDad3Girls
(And thank you to all who recommended I join up with this Linky)

{Living Arrows} 9/52 – Gappy Grin

Thomas was a very late teether. He got his first tooth at over eighteen months of age, and although they all came in a bit of rush then, with ten appearing in the space of a few weeks, there has been a long gap without any more. When he first got teeth, I was afraid that he would look completely different. But I’ve become accustomed to his gappy smile – just four top front teeth instead of the full arch that children of his age usually have.

He’s recently got his lower C’s (canines, third from the middle) and I know that the top ones are not too far behind. And once again I find myself thinking about how much I will miss his gap-toothed grin.

Times passes so fast. They are little so briefly. And changing all of the time.

Children are born to be cherished.

photo(24)

living arrows

Me and Mine – February 2014

This month’s Me and Mine photo is not, technically, a picture of the three of us. 

Look closely and you’ll see it in my hand: the grainy black and white photograph of my tiny blob of cells. That, and the pregnancy test that told me those cells are still there, growing, changing and becoming a person.

How could I not include that in our photograph for this month? What will hopefully be our second child, and a younger sibling for Thomas. At last. After all the months of trying and waiting and longing, I finally have hope that by the time the final Me and Mine of 2014 rolls around, there really will be four of us in it.

It’s early days, of course. I’m just 4 weeks and 5 days pregnant today. So much can go wrong. But so much can go right too. And as I explained here, I want to celebrate the fact that we’ve got this far, even if we get no further. I want to remember how this felt – and if you see the grins on our faces in this picture, you’ll get some idea. We’re over the moon!

So here it is. Me and Mine and our future family too.

IMG_1839

dear beautiful

{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.

IMG_1685Holding Daddy’s hand

living arrows

London Transport Trip

It’s hard for me to convey in words just how much Thomas loves trains and transport. It’s an obsession that dominates his day from the moment he wakes to the moment he falls asleep. In fact, it even invades his sleep time as he insists on sleeping with at least six trains and two buses in his cot, and we hear him sometimes narrating his own night time stories with these accessories. He natters away at nursery about stations, and timetables and platform numbers. His train set is the first toy here reaches for each day, and I am thankful every day for the trainspotters who upload their videos to YouTube, as sometimes watching them is the only down time Thomas has. He’s in danger of having a one track mind (can’t resist a pun!) but when I see how happy it makes him, I can’t do anything but go with it.

So the weekend before last, faced with both a beautiful day of few plans and a toddler incessantly demanding to “see a train” and “want to ride a seventy-two train to London Charing Cross” we gave in and took Thomas for a scenic tour of London’s transport.

Our day began on the train to London Bridge (not Charing Cross, much to Thomas’s disappointment, as it was closed due to engineering works). From there we hopped on to the Jubilee Line (“an Underground train mummy and daddy!”) to North Greenwich.

IMG_20140119_145613
IMG_20140119_102744
A low blood sugar for me forced a pit stop for cookies (Thomas) and coffee (us). And there was plenty of running around to be done inside the almost deserted O2. 

IMG_1487

IMG_1491

IMG_1495

IMG_1496

IMG_1500

IMG_1505

IMG_1515

IMG_1521

Next up we went flying on the Emirates Airline. This is the first time any of us have used the cable car across the river – admittedly it isn’t terribly useful unless you live or work in either of the areas it serves and need to get to the other! It was extremely quiet and so we, like everyone else, had an entire car to ourselves. Thomas was pretty apprehensive as we made our way up the stairs to board, shouting “Don’t like it mummy. Don’t like it” but his fear were soon replaced with wonder as we took off over the Thames.

He hasn’t stopped talking about it to anyone who will listen since!

IMG_1525

IMG_1529

IMG_1531

IMG_1534

IMG_1537

IMG_1539

IMG_1540

IMG_1556

IMG_1562

“Next we’re getting the DLR train”. Thomas has a way of pronouncing DLR to sound like a word of its own. Sadly we didn’t get to grab the front seats and “drive” the train, but Thomas still loved it. 

We found our way to Canary Wharf for a lunchtime stop, which included escalator rides – another fascination – and Thomas standing on the escalator himself for the first time ever!

IMG_1565

IMG_1579

IMG_1580

We completed our journey with a second tube ride and then the bus to Canon Street before catching a train home.

IMG_1584

IMG_20140119_142802

Such a simple (and relatively inexpensive, given that Ian has a Gold Card, which also gives me discount) day out, but Thomas absolutely loved it. He spoke to his Grandma on the phone two days later and the first thing he told her was that he’d been “on an underground train and it was wobbly” followed by talking all about flying in the cable car. 

I just hope Thomas remains this easy to please for the rest of his childhood!