Tuesday, 30 June 2015

May Half Term Round Up

During the week long break, we took the opportunity to holiday in London for 3 nights.  This took a bit of meticulous planning on my front, as I can assure you that traversing London Underground in a wheelchair is extremely challenging.  In fact, I came to learn that doing most things in London in a wheelchair was challenging.

We stayed this Premier Inn in Kensington, which worked really well.  We had a lovely big room, fantastic breakfasts - wonderfully friendly staff and a quiet space - which meant we all slept really well despite being in a shared room.

We had a few must do's on the list:
  • Buckingham Palace
  • Experience the Underground
  • Natural History Museum
  • Science Museum
  • Harrods, and a
  • Touristy Bus Tour
We had been visiting family in Buckinghamshire so we travelled from Milton Keynes to Euston on a fast track virgin train - which the children absolutely LoVED!!!  It was so fast it literally tilted on the rails and got us there in 25mins another exciting experience for the Littlie's.

When we arrived we headed straight for the hotel to leave our luggage and then headed straight back out to the Natural History Museum.

This is my favourite museum in London.  It was a different experience in a wheelchair again... and it was less busy because the sun was shining and the Queen was opening up the new Government and so many tourists were lining the streets elsewhere to catch sight of her.

After this we moved on to the Science Museum.  I have to say this suited my children so well - interactive displays, experiments to complete and lots of large scale exhibitions on view.

They absolutely loved it.  So much so that we returned on our last day instead of going to Hamleys!!!  Now that must mean success on the Science front.

For the second day I had booked a Hop on Hop off Bus Tour by Golden Tours.

This worked well for us with the wheelchair - although on occasion we double backed a few times on different routes, but we were sat down so it didn't really matter.  This was a fab way to see all the top tourist spots in London if you are unable to walk.  We could see it all from a great vantage point and I'd really encourage you to book one if you were doing this for the first time with children.

We had a GrEAT time and on quite a small budget.  I had booked the room as a deal months in advance, booked the Bus Tour and we were given a complimentary extra day free and a boat cruise, the kids ate for free at breakfast if one adult had a full English and we gathered for 'floor picnics' in the room from the local Wagamama each evening whilst watching the Britains Got Talent Finals. The days were tiring and full; the children's bedtime was a little later and our bedtime came a bit earlier so we all went to sleep at the same time.

We really felt like we weren't scrimping despite the London prices.  I had packed a load of snacks and drinks... The last day I really wanted the Littlie's to experience a bit of Harrods (we went to go and have tea in a cafe and found out that a slice of cake was £9 each!) So we settled for purchasing some cookies from the food hall and eating them in the picnic area of the Science Museum!!

All in all we had a wonderful experience during our few days in London.   I'm super glad that we did it and that the children got to witness our capital city.  We feel so remote from the city life that an insight into it can be really positive.  The Littlie's loved it... the memories are banked and a good holiday was had.

We came back happy but exhausted and had a really lazy weekend before the return to school and work on the Monday...

Due to my inflammatory flare this post has taken ages for me to write but even though we are about to say goodbye to June I've enjoyed looking back at our end of May!!!  I hope you have too.
Take care until next time,
J9 x

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Five on Friday

Just a quick post from me today.  I thought I'd share five happy moments from the last 24 hours and join in with Amy's Five on Friday party...

#1  Weston Sand Sculpture Festival

This years Sand Sculpture Festival is based upon a theme of celebrating the sculptures of the last 10 years.  I had purchased a Groupon pass for us and it was a great value experience.  I will post about this visit more fully next week and share some more of these sculptures - we did really enjoy the Festival.  I have to say, in my opinion, the sculptures weren't as intricate as they have been in previous years and I do prefer a specific theme to the creativity.  However, as a family day out the sculptures were enjoyable and fascinating none the less!!!

#2  Weston Air Festival

This annual festival takes place this weekend and we decided to coincide our visit to the Sand Sculpture Festival with the event to make the most of the experience.  The Red Arrows unfortunately were cancelled today as the clouds descended but they are due to fly tomorrow.  The above photo is from the display of kit planes who are self funded and had only been doing displays within the last year.  They were of a great standard considering they were over 50% kit planes!!!

#3  Brother & Sister time

Bickering has been in full flow over the past couple of weeks between these two.  Nothing serious just little annoyances being aired - largely I think due to tiredness and readjusting to being back at school after the half term holiday.  I find they always need a bit of time to readjust once they are not with each other 24:7.

This photograph captures a lovely moment from earlier today though.  They were sat laughing, chatting, picking grass seeds and throwing them in the air whilst also watching the different air displays overlooking the sea front.  It's good to remember these moments during those times of readjustment when my patience is tested!

#4  Tree Climbing

Little Lady's places of choice seem to be a) in a homemade den and / or b) up a tree.  These don't seem to change.  Either place is a happy place for her and she physically seeks them out.

#5  Park Play

We had parked a little way off the sea front - so as to avoid the volume of traffic and people.  After leaving the hub bub of the main arena we decided to sit and enjoy one of the town parks that we were walking back through towards the car.  The boys played football and Little Lady climbed trees.  I sat happily on a park bench watching the activity - sometimes watching them and sometimes casting my eyes skywards to the various planes and helicopters in flight.  A thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.

So those are my Five things.  Simple enough but they made me very happy.  I do hope you have a wonderful Father's Day for those celebrating tomorrow.  The boys are off to a football tournament and Little Lady and I are planning to peruse the lovely shops in Wells (where the tournament is taking place).  We've then been invited to a BBQ with friends so fingers crossed the weather stays dry.

Enjoy your day whatever you are doing.  Take care until next time,

J9 x

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Pretty Me & Make Me Challenge ~ April

Regular readers of this blog will know that I have committed to stop my procrastination and commit to a 'Pretty Me' project and a 'Make Me' challenge each month.  I've been working on these in between managing my health and it has been good to give me a little direction and to feel that I am being a little productive - even if I am still a couple months behind my target challenge!  I'm not pushing myself to overdo things even creatively but it is working for me and so I'll keep setting myself the challenge and sharing them with you here!

Pretty Me

Little Lady has been experiencing headaches, poor sleep and general fatigue for a good few months... behind the scenes she's had lots of blood tests, an MRI of her brain and a special tonic.  During this time we've tried to be proactive in eliminating any obvious sources; she's been prescribed iron due to being anaemic (brought on by a bought of illness and growth spurt), medicine to help relieve migraine, and we now practice many relaxation and meditation techniques together - but thankfully nothing more serious has been found.

Obviously, as a mother if your child is generally not 100% you want to do all that you can to help.  So, what else could I do? For the past few weeks I've been researching small double (4ft) beds. Little Lady had a 2ft 6 bed - approaching 9 and above average height I felt a bigger bed may well aid the much desired sleep process. I had a strict budget of £150 all in (bed, mattress, delivery etc) and mistakenly I thought this would get me what I had in mind. How wrong was I?!!  Over time I searched ebay and surprisingly found that I could get a vintage bed for the same price - if not less than a new 'less solid' model.

After two months searching, early one Sunday morning I won the auction on a black, cast iron bed. It was all dismantled so I have no pictures to share as a before. Sooo exciting; this bed is cast iron and the frame was in the family I bought if from since at least the 1930's!! The mattress was unused and both were sat in a guest room.  The couple had decided to reluctantly sell it as it was just not getting used!  I had found a similar bed painted cream on another site for hundreds of pounds... way outside of my budget. Oh yes, I have a plan.

I have to purchase some slats to support the mattress as it literally is the outer frame only so will need to build a slatted base.  I also want to soften its look with a paint job and so can't wait to complete this promising project!  This image gives you an idea of how it looks pre makeover.


Make Me

I've mentioned in a couple of posts (here and here) about the progress on my Coastal Target Squares Blanket.  I'm working on the border now and the completion of this blanket will be my April Make Me Challenge.  This is a big blanket and has been a joy to work on.  I really love the colours and can't wait to share the completed project with you.  I'm really enjoying the border making process too - it's the first time I've properly tried, frogged and reworked different crochet stitches and colours to try to get the look that I have in my mind and that compliments the squares themselves, rather than follow someone else's pattern.

I think both of these projects are going to be really rewarding to complete.  Both are focused on a desire to nurture my family and I am super positive about the outcome of each of these!

I look forward to sharing the finished items with you later this month.  I hope you are having a wonderful week.  

Thankfully my health is starting to improve gradually.  I've been taking steroids for just over a week and these are dampening my immune system and associated inflammation.  I have two more weeks of the course to take and hope that the relief will continue to come.  THaNK YOU all for your wonderful messages of support on my recent posts - I can't tell you how much your comments help to lift my mood and ease my negative thinking.  I really appreciate all of your Bloggy friendships - I truly do.  So much so that next week I'm planning a little giveaway!  So please do pop back to this little space to see what goodies you could win.  

Take care until next time,

J9 x

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Five on Friday ~ Thankful through Challenging Times

Hello Lovely People!
How are you all doing? Good I do so hope.

As for myself, I've kind of lost my Bloggy mojo.  I had no idea what to share today and so I just started writing some thoughts down.  Mainly along the Project Gratitude line... plus the lovely Amy's linky Five on Friday party gave me some structure.  I'm going to use archived photos too just to ease me back in to the process.

I really felt I had nothing to share or anything interesting to say.  Perhaps I don't... but I've come back to write this intro to collate these thoughts all together and I'm glad I have created this post.  So, thank you for stopping by.  Normal jolly service will resume I'm sure.  In the meantime, here are some things I've given thanks for this past few days:

# 1 ~   Family Firsts

Well, half term absolutely flew by. We had a fab time staying away with friends and family for the first few days.  Then we spent a few days in London doing all the touristy things with the children for the first time, which they completely LoVED. I will write a separate post about this as a journal of this Family First.  It was also the first time I've done London in a wheelchair and needless to say it was very, very challenging.  A great experience for the children and I am completely delighted to have shared it with them... But my goodness it was hard.

Please don't ever underestimate the wonder of legs that work and the joy of movement without pain.

# 2 ~  My Mum

My mum came to stay on Sunday for this past week.  She instinctively helps with so many of the everyday things, getting breakfast, the school runs etc while I am confined to my bed. I am so very thankful for her love and support.  Perhaps I am even more thankful for her relationship with my children.  It is magical and born from helping me and my children long term as occasionally I've had to divert energy in order to overcome physical challenges.  Hours of care, play, love and reassuringly 'being' have made their mark on their hearts.

She has her own health issues but is a generous soul who will help whenever she can.  A day does not pass where I do not feel enormously grateful for her impact on our life.

# 3 ~  A Lucky Escape

Image result for bicycle quotes
Also on Sunday morning, the Hubby called to say he'd had another puncture (the third in as many bike rides) and was stuck somewhere on Cheddar Gorge.  This is his new exercise having had to stop running since his achilles rupture.  A learning path I guess.  I loaded the kids in the car and left a note for my mum who was supposed to arrive any moment... myself moaning about however were we to get the bike, him and the kids in the car with myself so unwell.

As we drove up through the Gorge, we found him by the side of the road... as our eyes met, I knew more had happened than a simple puncture.  He had not wanted to worry me over the phone but had underestimated a sharp bend in the road and crashed (and come off) his bike.  Having missed the bend he shot over the the other side of the road and way up onto the verge of a parking area.  Either a car coming the opposite way, or cars parked in the layby would have led to more serious injury.  He was clearly rattled over an hour after it had happened and even though masking it from the children... I knew immediately we were fortunate that he was not seriously physically hurt.  It was a wake up call for us both.  Myself for my fuss at a 'puncture' and him as a speed warning.  I am so thankful that we have these lessons reaffirmed and our eyes refocused on what matters most.

# 4 ~  Medicine

On Tuesday I saw the Rheumatologist again, had a whole number of additional tests and have started another course of steroids (not in the photo which is of my normal routine nightly meds). Relief from my inflammatory flare and lack of pacing will come in a couple weeks if this follows the pattern of previous flares.  So thankful for this medication and the hope that the Doctors have in trying to manage my symptoms more effectively in future.  Hope is powerful in itself.

# 5 ~ Journalling

Thankful that I have different options to brain dump!  Due to the trauma of my original accident, my central nervous system is highly sensitized.  It is ill and this affects so many things; messages to my body from my brain are confused, during flares my brain function is very slow and my clarity of thought is not at it's best.  I have a journal recording my health daily as a tool in managing symptoms.  I have many different options for putting thoughts and ideas down and I am especially happy to have this space to reflect on. To record them seems to make sense of it all in my mind and enables me to reassess the importance of some things and the insignificance of others.

I am quite an introverted, reflective personality and since my accident this trait has become more extreme.  I am aware that I have gone into myself this week.  Into survival mode - just getting through.  I can get anxious leaving the house.  I try to force myself though as otherwise the barriers increase and I'd become increasingly isolated if I didn't make the extra effort.

I hadn't wanted to blog today. I haven't written a post for a while and I was beginning to feel that if I didn't write soon, I may have lost my voice.  I expect this is simply an example of the mental place I'm in.  But I'm glad I have written this. It has calmed my mind and helped me process some negative thinking and on reflection, writing has highlighted the need to value these challenges... providing perspective and changing the way I look at events.

Whilst this isn't perhaps the happiest post I have ever written it does bring contentment to recognise and give thanks for the everyday moments in life - not just the perfect bits.  I've struggled through a painful and physically hard week but I am still grateful.  The weekend is here and relief shall come.

Increasingly, I realise that happiness does not come from having or always being happy. For me it can come as the storm clouds pass and the first glimmer of sun breaks through.  This is the metaphor for my happy moments these past two weeks.  Nothing life changing or particularly eventful.  For now, I'm resting my body and have a new peace of mind.

The sun will shine... but sometimes we need a few clouds to really appreciate it when it does break through.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Five on Friday

The past week has been a tough one for me physically.  I'm not going to dwell on it though.  For my Five Things this week I've chosen to share five of the little things which have made me happy and for which I am ever so grateful:

#1  Morris Men

A quintessentially British tradition of men dancing together with hankies in their hands and bells round their knees.  It can't fail to make you smile.

#2  Stupendously beautiful and aromatic stocks

A delightful 'whoopsie' purchase made in the supermarket whilst I was perusing the "Free From" section.  I often buy reduced flowers partly for budgetary reasons and partly because they are in flower and harder to walk past!!!  These were already in flower and continue to make the whole kitchen smell beautiful!

#3  Kitchen Dresser

I've mainly stayed in the house this week but instead of focusing on what I couldn't do I chose to find something that I could do.  I wanted something that I could come to and leave, which could be split down into smaller parts to make up a whole job over the course of a day and that would provide happiness to me.  Rearranging the display of china on my kitchen dresser always does this.  Part of the joy is in deciding what colours, which plates and items to select and part comes from seeing those pretty things each day on entering the kitchen.  Oh, I do so love a flowery, vintage plate!

#4  A Special Treat

When I saw what Jooles of the lovely blog Sew Sweet Violet shared some pictures of her recent Liberty fabric butterfly makes I completely adored them.  They really are my kind of thing and are so exquisitely sewn.  I felt that a naughty treat was just what I needed during a physically difficult week and it's true that the anticipation of a beautifully wrapped purple package winging it's way to my house was part of the joy!  I completely love this canvas and can't wait to hang it in my lounge once it is decorated.  Watch this space!

#5  Sports Day 

It seems that both of my children are Queen and King of the traditional "Egg & Spoon" race! (Both of my little winners are on the left of the photos in caps).  The school is divided into tribes named after different tribes in Kenya (Maasai, Luo, Kikuyu & Kamba) and each wear their tribe colours.  My children are part of the Kamba Tribe and so were wearing blue T Shirts.  These connections are made throughout the education within the primary school as it is twinned and contributes to schooling with one in Dabaso, Kenya hence the names of the school teams.  We fundraise through school events throughout the year and connect with some of the students attending the school in Kenya so this is a fun, educational and inspirational thing to be part of.

Last year the school sports day was rearranged 3 times due to weather issues meaning it had to be postponed on each previous occasion.  This year the first date was a beautiful sunny day - the days either side of it were torrential rain and wind!!  On the day in question though, the weather couldn't have been more wonderful and it meant that the end of next term won't be quite so manic with celebratory summer term activities.  My lovely Mum was up staying too and so she was able to watch the little ones race.  My children are very outdoorsy and athletic and competed with gusto on the day. The occasion provided so many things to be grateful for.

I hope too that there have been many Simple Things which you too have been grateful for this week.

I won't be around in this space much over the next couple of weeks.  We have half term next week here and we are away visiting family and enjoying a special visit to London too!  This will be the Little Ones' first visit to the 'Big Smoke' and they are very excited!  Of course I'll share some pictures on our return!  I know that this will impact me physically and so am just going to take the following week to help recover.  I've started instagram though - my brick sadly had to go to phone heaven and so I have succumbed to the android smart phone generation!  If you would like to see some pictures whilst I'm away I am @j9shappiness I am finding out that the camera on it is fairly pants but I'm enjoying seeing what some of you lovely people are doing in such an accessible way.  The laptop which I use for blogging is quite old and slow now and I tend to binge read on blogs a couple times a week as a result.  I love this little bloggy community though so after my little break I shall be back!  There are a few things on the hook at present and I can't wait to share!!!  
Enjoy the weeks ahead... until next time!

Today I'm delighted to be joining in with Amy for her Five on Friday linky party.

Happy Weekend Folks!!!
J9 x

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Five on Friday

I thought I'd share some of the crafty things I've been enjoying over the past couple weeks.

#1  Coastal Target Square Blanket

This blanket journey is nearing it's end.  I have been off my legs this week and have spent some of this time sewing squares together.  I'm sure there is a more efficient way of doing this than the process I've adopted!!  I think the border will have the mid shades of blue in to pull it all together.  I'm looking forward to completing this one and giving it a full Ta Dah moment!!

#2  Crochet & Embroidery Cushion

I've completed the crochet elements of these cushions and simply need to transfer the image in my mind to the linen I've selected.  Easier said than done I think and as I have been bed-bound for large parts of the day this week I haven't been able to start the embroidery / applique bit.  It will come though...

#3  Crochet Cushion Gift

I needed a simple and repetitive pattern to work on this week at various points when my brain was just too foggy.  I had this project in my mind.  I plan to gift it to my friend's darling boy for his first birthday.  I have started it with plenty of time to complete it with yarn from my stash.  I hadn't crocheted a circle for a while and so refreshed my memory using Attic24's flat circle tutorial.  Once started it was surprisingly quick and easy to work up.  The fun bit of creating its face and putting it all together is yet to come!!!

#4  Square cutting for Quilts

(No pictures as yet but as soon as there is something worth photographing I promise I will share!!!)
At the start of this year I set myself the target to make as many birthday gifts as I was able.  I have three boys birthdays looming in the next month and have decided to make them a single quilt each.  I'll have to do this on days when I am well enough to sit at the sewing machine but I plan to create them in a mini production line style!!!  I have some fabric stashed and also I saved many of the Little Man's shirts over the years which I plan to cut up and use.  This will be time rich but a thoughtful and thrifty gift I think.  I'm looking forward to using the sewing machine again.  It has been a while since I've used it creatively.

#5  A Project to Makeover

This is another skip type rescue - I actually was walking Milo and as the gent was about to put it in I asked politely if it could come home with me!  These parts actually make up a vintage sewing box.  I really love the shape of it and it shouldn't take too much to bring it back to life.  This little makeover will be my May Pretty Me project and I'm yet to make a start on it.  I have it in mind though, waiting for me to bring it to life again.

I hope you are enjoying this fine day.  I am completely shattered at present.  The slow release steroids have ended plus I'm fighting a viral infection which has all my glands reacting and swollen.  I have glands swollen where I didn't know I had them - I think that's the lupus!  This shall pass... and I'm due to have a review at the Rheumotology clinic in early June so I should get some more steroids then... so positivity to come.  

I hope you have a joyful weekend and have many happy moments in the week ahead.

J9 x

Today I'm delighted to be joining in with Amy and her wonderful linky party

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Oh, I do like to be beside the Seaside...

I mentioned here that I had visited my lovely mother in my home county of Cornwall the weekend before the Easter holidays.  The past few weeks have been a busy time and so I didn't get round to record this lovely visit earlier.  Now it is wet and cold outside I thought I'd take us back to a month ago when the sun was shining and the sky was blue!!!

The journey down was hideous - over four hours for a two and half hour journey.  I forget how much difference the tourist trade makes to the volume of vehicles on the road!  This was why we didn't go over the Easter holidays as we've previously done that and been stuck for hours.  We arrived safe and sound though so always thankful for that.

Anyhow, the weather was completely glorious.  We were so treated by the spring fairies and felt obliged to make the most of the sunshine with a very necessary trip to the sea.  Oh bluey turqouise waves... how I miss thee.

The kiddies played in fleeces and wellies in the sand.  Happy and content for the day.  It was bliss.

My mother and I enjoyed a seat at the top of the beach, drinking in the view and a flask of yummy hot chocolate.

Sporadically, the call for more shells, water or pebbles resulted in different combinations of our little group slowly combing the sands for longed for treasures.

I'm always so inspired by the seashore.  It completely replenishes my soul and I literally drink it in.

After some hard core sandcastle making and hot chocolate drinking there was some very enjoyable kite flying!  This is normally one of the busiest beaches (Fistral in Newquay) but apart from a number of local surfers we were the only family unit on the beach.  This always shocks me but it meant that the Littlie's could fly the kite without the fear of decapitating someone ;0)

The remainder of the days were spent playing at my Mum's house.  We didn't even make it to the park this time.  The Littlie's were content to play in her garden and actually spent most of their time building K'nex vehicles and racing them down the slope below.

This occasion was a very lovely and relaxed visit.  The Hubby had stayed behind for a boys weekend with his Uni buddies - and we were happy to be by the sea.  Positive stuff all round for our well-being!

Thank you all so much for the lovely comments many of you have left over the past few weeks.  I am so grateful for so many of your bloggy friendships.  I have lost a few followers over the past month so am sorry if my Journalling seems boring or repetitive.  I recognise that much of my blog has been family focused recently and that this won't appeal to everyone.  That is mainly the purpose of my little blog and so that won't change in the future.  I have a number of crafty endeavours underway but my health really prevents my days being ultra productive.  Again, this will not change in the future.  Please do bear with me - or if this space doesn't suit you then so be it.  

I appreciate the lovely bloggy friendships I have developed since joining this blogging community and on some days other than my family, these are the only communications I am able to enjoy.  So thank you for being such special people.

J9 x