Thursday, 16 October 2014

I am / I try to be / I am not

Thank you all for your kind words of encouragement and cyber hugs over the past month.  It has genuinely been helping knowing that some wonderful people in the world I've not physically met would take the time to show they care.

I don't have a lot to post about at present as the lack of camera is frustrating - soon to be resolved though.  I've seen both Jennifer from thistlebear and and Leanne from Today's Stuff do this and I enjoyed learning a little more about them individually in this way so I thought I'd join in.

I am

  • a chronic chocoholic.  It is my 'go to' for all emotional traumas or celebrations.  I can always make up a reason!  Maltesers are my favourite (although it is not the lighter way to enjoy chocolate as there are LOTS of calories in them).  Or Dairy Milk.  Yum.  I will never be a size 10 again and I'm OK with that.
  • a bit naive.  I'm in my mid thirties now and life is showing me that sadly the real world is a darker place than the little world of my childhood.  I aspire to shelter my own children from very many horrors in the world yet give them age appropriate awareness so that they are not vulnerable in later life.
  • a hoarder.  It's true I have hoarding tendencies.  I can see a future project or a use in most things and have to manage my actions to prevent stuff entering my home - it's the reason I've gone cold turkey on charity shops.  Don't get me wrong I don't live in a house stacked high with rubbish but there is what many people would call clutter!
  • concerned about Ebola.  I think this is a worldwide issue which fills me with worry.
  • cooking a roast chicken with all the trimmings for tea tonight and an apple and blackberry crumble with custard for afters.  Yummy.

I try to be
  • a patient, attentive, consistent and calm mother.  I don't want to rule as an autocrat or through fear but aim for my children to feel they can talk to me about anything.  
  • a good wife and friend.  I am blessed with having some wonderful people in my life which is something I'm eternally grateful for.  
  • a good listener.  I'm naturally an introvert and have quite a quiet personality.  I have a few close friends with great personality traits and I think if you asked them mine they would say that I'm a good listener.
  • kind to myself.  Since my accident I tend to overcompensate for many of the things that I can no longer do and when I can't achieve what I aim for it leads to feelings of guilt which can be overwhelming.  I'm learning to be kinder to myself.
  • organised.  I'm not a naturally organised person.  My lovely mother's idea of filing was to simply put things in a drawer.  Which drawer and where was never important until we needed to find something and it would lead to a frantic search and stress.  I'm trying to minimise all sources of stress I can influence and so gradually my home - room by room is being organised and everything is finding its home.  It's working!
  • creative with our weekend times.  Time together as a family is so precious and I'm conscious that we make the most of this time.  In so doing I've perhaps over planned trips or family visits and we need some creative time at home to relax together and do the much loved simple things.  I'll try harder and keep evaluating that this is right for us.

I am not
  • on top of the laundry.  Rainfall has been so heavy and so consistent this past week the laundry basket is full.  I'm waiting for dry weather to help dry it before it becomes a mountain.  We don't have a tumble dryer but I'm even beginning to consider putting the heating on to dry some on the radiators.  I'm trying not to as I can manage without the heating on at the moment and quite frankly the cost of energy is an issue!
  • currently 'on plan'.  I've been a member of Slimming World since February and have very slowly lost 10lbs.  It's taking forever because I can't exercise much at present due to my health and when I feel in pain my resolve weakens!   I think I may have eaten that weight in ginger nut biscuits over the last few days!!!
  • naturally tidy.  Chaos makes me stressed though - even when it's not on view but I'm trying hard to work on this trait.  I'm teaching myself but it's a process!
  • a girly girl.  I was a National Park & Wildlife Trust Ranger post graduation and pre kids and have always lived in trousers etc with minimal makeup.  I had a part time job once in Monsoon and had to wear colourful dresses and was so uncomfortable!!  Over the last few years I've started wearing dresses during the summer as I've overcome my self consciousness and even wear a little foundation and mascara!!  But that's about it - ooh, I love a good pedicure though.
  • enjoying being alone at home without my little dog Milo.  He's currently at the vets having his teeth cleaned!!  It feels very quiet here without my little shadow.  
This was quite fun to write so thank you for the inspiration.  Take care until next time,
J9 x

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

To Bee or not To Bee?

Way back in July, we experienced an exciting phenomenon of a swarm of bees actually 'swarming'.  The scale of this was such that we actually heard the bees swarming before we could see them.

We later learnt that this was a Prime swarm meaning that there was a good number of bees (upwards of 30000) present around the Queen bee.

I've seen three previous sets of bees swarming but none on this scale.  The Hubby was a bit freaked out - it being his first swarming event to witness.  It really is an impressive sight.  I was too busy watching to run and grab my camera so I missed catching the cloud of bees to illustrate but they did physically dominate the space at the front of two large detached houses, the whole main road and front gardens to the opposite houses.  An awesome sight to behold.

As we watched, the bees gradually settled on a tree opposite our house.  I know from previous experiences that once they've settled they aren't dangerous being heavy with honey and it was at this point I could get up close and photograph them in their banana shape around the Queen and a chosen branch of the tree.
I called up the local Bee Association and they sent a Bee Keeper out to me.  This was initially complicated by the American Brood Disease restriction being placed on the movement of swarms within 5km distances but the Bee Keeper had a contact that would mean they could relocate the swarm into a newly managed hive locally - fantastic!!
The process of getting the swarm into a collection chamber wasn't too technical - the keeper simply knocked the heavy swarm from the branch into the box hoping that he'd knocked the Queen into the box.  He then left the box at the foot of the tree for the remaining bees to move into - following the pheromone of the Queen.  Then it was a bit of a sit and wait - watching to see whether more bees moved into the box and whether indeed he'd been successful in collecting the Queen or not.
Once it was established we'd collected the Queen they returned at around 8 pm when the bees were less lively to move them to their new hive.  Essentially the slides were stretched with fresh bees wax and were literally dripping with bees - they were so large in number.
This whole event literally felt like a sign to me.  Not one week before I'd been sat with the Hubby talking about a Bucket List of experiences that we'd each like to achieve while we are still able.  His contained things like: parachute jump, run New York marathon, exotic travel etc.  Mine included: starting to sell handmade products at craft fairs, going to Yarndale and bee keeping.  Yes - I have a huge desire (and have done since childhood) to manage my own Hive.  Due to this swarm I made the connections to start my journey along this path. Indeed, if I had had the right equipment I could have started with this very swarm back in July!  

So, my pledge to myself is that I will allow myself the time, give myself the confidence to attend Bee Association meetings and start an apprenticeship so that I will bring about managing my own hive within the next two-three years.  

There.  A definite pledge to myself.  I don't often prioritise myself - we don't as mums do we?  But in this case myself with my Little Man (who is an avid bee lover) will be proactive in making this actually happen.  What a sight to witness so closely though.  The inspiring magic of nature.
Ooooo the excitement!  Hope you have some excitement - in whatever form - however diverse - wherever you are in the world!

J9 x

Wednesday, 8 October 2014


The summer holidays have passed in a happy blur of giggles and bouncing, Lego construction and picnicking, beaching and crafty creativity.  It has been a good holiday time for us - despite some challenges on the mobility front!

We cancelled our planned family trips to London and Cornwall and decided to take multiple day trips.  Much of the time it was the Littlie's and I - the Hubby's ruptured achilles required elevation above his heart for the majority of the day due to excessive swelling, but we jumbled along through our days in a largely content manner.

The first few days of the holiday were perhaps the most challenging - primarily managing multiple hospital appointments and understanding Hubby's new injury was difficult - plus the children took a couple of days to adjust to being together again 24 / 7!!  This happily settled down after the first 2 or 3 days and the children spent the remainder of the holidays being each others play pal.  This is always one of my favourite things to observe - they are usually each others best advocate and supporter and it does fill me with pride to hear the conversations they have and the games they create.

My camera malfunctioned during the holidays (much to my horror).  I only have a point and shoot camera but in my experience they just don't seem to last much beyond the warranty period.  I'm on my third model now and have loved my current one with it's WiFi connectivity (especially useful to transfer pictures for this blog) but am now researching new options.  I don't have a smart phone so that instant camera facility isn't available to me elsewhere!!!  Enough about this but I write this partly to justify the 'quality' of images!!  Memories captured none the less.  I also found myself being much more in the moment this holiday period; either part of the play with the children and trying to record the scenes to my physical memory rather than watching through a lens - which can sometimes be tempting.  I kept a handwritten journal throughout the holidays and whilst we stayed at home we did get out to a whole range of parks across the county (always with a picnic) and the weather was stunning for much of it!

We also had lots of water play.  Either in the paddling pool, Marine Lake, the sea or Water Parks.

The children had chore charts for the first time too - with daily jobs to complete in return for a little pocket money or a specific treat day (like Puxton Park).  This helped us balance the extra mess that happens in a family home and reduced the need for nagging!!

My Mum - 'Granny', came and stayed on a couple of occasions for a few days at a time which was a great help.  It meant adult company on days out for me and a doting player of board games for the kids.  I loved spending these relaxed times with her and the children - especially Little Lady are so appreciative of her time it is an equally rewarding relationship.

In short, August 2014 was a wonderful month.  It was challenging in many ways - yet these times do help you to appreciate the good - and gladly there were plenty of good moments.  We could have easily done with another couple of weeks of restorative rest and child filled fun this summer.  The children were still able to fill their days and not once complain of boredom.  Other than the first couple days of readjusting there were no kiddie cross words and the sunny days of summer were just that.  For once our English summer was full of sunshine; our days in Somerset were long and warm full of outdoor opportunity...and our little family was happy and content.

The achilles heel is now into its 7th week of healing so lets hope that September is Super too!

This post has been drafted awaiting photos for over a month and he is now about 12 weeks into recovery - hence the down turn of my own health during September is not reflected in this previously drafted post.  I liked the post as it read when I came back to it today as I was clearly still on the high of good times with the kids... reading it helped me to reconnect with those times and so with only this adjustment and the addition of photos it has stayed the same and I've hit publish.  What a difference a month can make!  Problems with my own camera has meant that sorting the photos for this post has been tricky - hence it now being October before my record of the summer is complete!!  Better late than never!

J9 x

Friday, 3 October 2014

Oddie - A Moshi Monster Birthday Cake

With the start of September came the ninth birthday of our firstborn.  Our gorgeous girl celebrated at home in the morning and then went to a friend's birthday party in the afternoon!!  It was a little strange for us grown ups to join someone else's birthday on her actual day but it was her choice to go and the kiddies had great fun!

Regular readers of this blog will know that birthdays in this household are celebrated with homemade cakes.  With the absence of her own party tea (food was eaten at her friend's party!) we had a small celebratory lunch completed by our traditional rendition of Happy Birthday and blowing out of candles.

Little Lady is an avid collector / fan of Moshi Monsters.  Lots of our play is centred around them whether it is pretend play or craft.  So the request for the birthday cake could only be one such character!  The Moshling of choice was Oddie (a donut shaped monster with big eyes and little legs).  Mmmm I thought, not too tricky... so ta dah!!

I made a double batch of sponge batter, divided it into two and added cocoa powder to one of the mixes.  When spooning it in I alternated the different batters and then smoothed it to create a 'marble' cake.  I didn't have a special tin with a hole in the middle so simply put an empty washed tin in the centre of a round tin and voila - it did the job tremendously!

Once covered with butter icing I simply mixed the colours of fondant icing and Oddie came to life quite quickly.  I was a little disappointed with his eyes as they cracked as they dried but the overall look was quite effective and Little Lady was delighted.  Add a little edible glitter and all was well with the world!

It was eaten ridiculously quickly and was much enjoyed!  Little Lady has a couple of friends over at the end of October to celebrate her special day - there's been so much ill health in this household we needed a few quiet weekends to restore some energy before and thus we hope to be thoroughly regenerated for her celebrations when they do eventually happen!

The cake hit the spot though!

J9 x

Thursday, 25 September 2014

A Brave Boy's Dream: Loom to the Moon & Blue Skye Thinking

During the more recent days of my recovery my hands have been relieved of their stiff and swollen appearance and with this has come great relief.  Whilst I do not have the freedom of movement to crochet as yet, I do have the ability to Loom Band.

This has become a major craze here in the UK and I know that many of you dear readers will share in my enthusiasm for cheap, accessible craft for children... yet, shake your head at the endless trail of loose bands, snapped or complete that is present along any route of creativity... or is that just my messy children!?! 

Recently, I read the powerful story of two brave brothers - Jesse and Skye Hall.  Skye suffered from the same kind of brain tumour as Ashya King whose treatment has been covered by the media over the past month. So very sadly, Skye lost his battle and died peacefully at home on 29th August 2014.

During his illness, Skye had a dream... 

he wanted to Loom to the Moon

Reading this story and sharing it with my children has prompted awe, many heartfelt tears and inspiring conversation.  I do hope that many of you take the time to read about Skye's story and the wonderfully inspirational Blue Skye Thinking Charity created and the Loom to the Moon mission in his name.  The primary aim being to break the World Guinness Record for the longest loom chain and to raise money for the charity.  The Guardian wrote an article here which has more information too.

We have been working on Loom Band chains as a family and will send them off to Skye and Jesse's parents to help them achieve the dream.

If you are inspired to help with the Mission and / or donate, please do so. 

I so hope they manage to Loom to the Moon.... and beyond.

J9 x

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

This Too Shall Pass

I logged on just after tea tonight and have spent the last couple hours reading a few blog posts, checking my ridiculously overfilled email and generally reintroducing myself to the way of the laptop having been absent from it for the summer.

In the main part, it has been enormously pleasant to see gorgeous posts depicting the continuing passing of seasons, beautiful photography or stunning creations... but if I'm honest, for the first time in a long time, whilst sharing in these moments through Blogland - I felt completely inadequate.  Like reconnecting with the wider world and their accomplishments diminished mine and highlighted my lack of achievement.  I am in no way seeking to ridicule any post whatsoever, more highlight the mindset that I fell into whilst reading them (a reflection on myself - alone).

In short, my soul accomplishment in September thus far has been one of existence; of going through the motions, trying to find comfort in routine and battling real ill health.  My children are well fed, watered, clean and cared for - main job done, but I have failed to complete much else (and I do not exaggerate).

The summer holidays passed in a happy blur - genuinely.  My pain increased each day but we were content.  Pushing through to achieve these happy times and moments to remember is so worthwhile but for me physically, there is always a price to pay.  The Hubby is still recovering from his Achilles rupture (and still in that big boot) but is beginning to weight bare.  This has meant we didn't get a break away this year, nor a defined period of relaxation and I think as the new month rang in and August ebbed away, my own strength began to disappear even more than over a normal summer period.  No worries, I thought - the children started back to school on the 2nd then I can recuperate.

Too little too late I fear as a serious rheumatoid flare took hold.  I have been on high dose steroids for the treatment of the flare now for 10 days (which I had tried unsuccessfully to manage through pacing alone for the 2 previous weeks) and I am slowly recovering.  Only once, when I was first diagnosed around 4 years ago have I suffered to this degree.  It has crippled my body and weakened my resolve... I have really struggled and it has called me to evaluate so many facets of life and existence.

Thank goodness for Mothers.  My mum arrived 8 days ago and took on 'the home' and 'school runs'. For the next 6 days I was bedridden - in complete agony, until the steroids properly commenced their work.  I am slowly recovering and allowing myself to rest completely.  My mum left again today and I will manage the morning school run if nothing else... I will tick that box.

When so much of my current identity is linked with my role as mum - how awful does it feel when I can't fulfill those needs?  Hideous.  The rational brain says "Anyone can get ill" and of course, I know this to be true.  But living it with time to think and pain that saps any strength you can muster is a real challenge.  But I am on the road to recovery from this flare.  It has also meant referrals to more consultants which I have avoided for a few years so maybe this will be a timely review.

It wasn't my intention to write this post, it was simply going to be a "summer catch up to follow" kind of post, but it has flowed from my fingers. I guess it is cathartic and I'm just gonna press publish and go with it warts and all.  There are no ta dahs to share, no exciting projects to tell you about or even pictures to go with these words.

If there is a reader out there who is questioning their purpose or is jaded by their aspiration for constant perfection.  Know that you are not alone and that sometimes real life is hard.  And trust in the timeless reassurance that whatever you may be going through, however you are tested.

This too shall pass.

J9 x

Sunday, 10 August 2014

August Holidays So Far...

Look what happened on the evening of the last day of term...  the Hubby snapped his achilles - ouch.

It has been a challenging start to the month - he's spent two weeks in full plaster and now has this enormous boot on to secure his foot in a position to help it heal over the coming weeks.  After the initial shock we keep trying to mentally reinforce that all will be OK - healing is in process... a minimum of a twelve week healing process where he is unable to put any weight on his left leg.  Hence we are experiencing what it is like to have two mobility impaired adults in this house at present!!  

I confess I did pause, look to the sky and question: what kind of woman I must have been in a previous life- to continue to face the challenges that seem to keep coming our way!!

But still... there are things to be happy about (oh yes, I will search them out ;0) )

#  Loving my floral displays.  Simple annuals in abundance.  LoVE the colourful, clashing riot.

#  Joyful Garden Camping.  Lots of play occurs in this tent during the day time.  Then they decided an overnight camp would be fun.  Their overnight camp lasted exactly 28 fun filled minutes.  Scary, creaky noises and my inability to make the wind stop blowing the tent canvas were to blame.  "The tent is great for day time play Mummy - maybe tomorrow night we'll sleep out there".

#  Age old holiday rituals of Cuddly Picnics / Play.  Children feeling free and safe to play whatever game they choose.  Innocence captured.  Enough said.

#  Loving the sheer enthusiasm for reading due to the Summer Reading Challenge - this year the theme is Mythical Maze.  There are horrible scratch and sniff stickers gifted for every two books read - my children's idea of awesome.  Hoorah for our free Library service!

This is my first time online since my last post so this is just a quick 'catch up hello' before another month passes!  Happy holidays dear readers,

J9 x