Saturday, 29 September 2012

New Beginnings

This summer I used YouTube to try to learn how to make basic granny squares.  I've wanted to learn how to crochet for sooo long and given the visual splendour of makes that can be seen across blogland there is no shortage of inspiration.

So, gradually I've practised and become fairly rhythmic at crocheting.  My efforts comprise this small but rewarding little collection of hooking bliss. 

Throughout the summer holidays I took my little tote bag in my handbag everywhere.  It was my 'go to' grab before heading out to parks, beaches, woods with kiddies. 

And since the children have returned to school and I have felt torn - sometimes savouring the quiet of our home and at other times mourning the silence in their absence, I've been continuing to crochet those little rounds.  I have a small collection of squares in my chosen colours. 

 I've counted and planned and looked at the piles a bit more.

It's surprisingly satisfying this new craft for me.  Fairly quick to make the couple rounds of the squares I've decided on starting with.  Relatively quickly I'm rewarded with another little square to add to my collection.  I feel creatively productive.  It's a great feeling!

I want to make the first 2 rounds solid block colours, then contrast the outer in another colour and set these against pale outer rounds.   I have no idea yet how to achieve the 'whole'.  I'm focused instead on creating my little rounds.  I'm sure YouTube will come to my rescue when I'm ready.

I read blog posts about the 'boring job of sewing in ends' and the onerous task of joining squares - it may as well be in a foreign language to me at present.  Because for now, I won't busy myself with how.  I remain content.  Happilly engrossed in making my basic squares and dreaming of the potential that these small squares can achieve.  I'm in no rush to finish.

I love the idea of my crochet beginnings.  The idea of working towards my goal of a sumptuous crocheted blanket is as much enjoyment for me as the finished article.  It's the process that gives me pleasure.  Something to work on, feel inspired by and something that can visually progress each time I can grab a moment.  So doubtless there will be much stacking and unstacking of little piles before I can 'ta dah' my finished blanket. 

I shall look forward to sharing the progress on this as I learn each required element along the path to create a crochet blanket.  I know I shall have to put this aside to create homemade gifts for the upcoming holiday time that is looming in the background.  But I shall return to my crochet...  for it gives me pleasure. 

Simple things hold such joy.  But then, you knew that anyway... It's me being inspired by so many people across the world.  How amazing is that?

Thank you.  Truly.  I feel blessed to witness such diversity of creativity.

J9 x

Monday, 24 September 2012

My Mum & Me

My mother is a truly wonderful woman. She has been suffering so badly with arthritus and worn joints and the associated disability and pain that this brings. But through all this, she remains my rock.

As a young child, I was a daddy's girl.  I was a tomboy and much younger than my 'next' sibling, so naturally spent lots more time with my parents.  Sadly, my father died nine years ago.  I miss him every day.

During my twenties, my relationship with my mother evolved to one of respect, enormous love and true friendship.  My father's illness was not kind.  My mother nursed him so devotedly and we spent hours together sharing the strain, enjoying some sweet moments when they came and getting each other through.

My daughter Ruby was born the year after my father died and her and 'Granny' have a wonderful bond.  We found out I was pregnant with her on the Christmas Eve following his death.  The joy her birth brought gave us new energy to carry on fully living life.

When I had my accident, mum came and stayed with us for two months.  Her love and care of me and my family got us through a time of wonder - with a newborn, and immense pain, turmoil and life changing immobility.  She became motherly to not just me but to my children and at times, my husband.  I was 38 weeks pregnant when I had my accident, and Billy was born by C Section a week later.  Due to the pregnancy I wasn't xrayed and the real extent of my injuries weren't identified resulting in this delay...

God's plan is remarkable.  New life can bring such joy amidst tragedy.  I remained in hospital for a further week whilst Billy was discharged.  I had never left Ruby overnight before and now was separated from her and my newborn baby.  I knew that my mum and Ben were the 'other' best people to be looking after my precious littlies.  The children I was told I probably wouldn't have.  They kept them happy, hid the darkness from their eyes and kept love and fun a priority.

My mother and Ben supported me through the most difficult time of my life.  Through their strength and love I returned home to my family.  I spent almost 12 months in my house then.  Juggling a newborn, 2 year old, unable to walk and still in uncompromising agony.  It was hard.  I don't know how we got through it.  But I do know my mother was a key part in getting me through. 

At this moment, my mother is having a new knee joint put in.  In her case it's a more complicated operation due to a number of factors I won't go into here.  We trust in the surgeon, in god's plan and in our collective will to keep her going.

Mum, I love you beyond measure.  You have helped me through a time that felt so bleak and dark.  You love my children unconditionally, as you do me and I do you.  I am so grateful for everything you sacrificed for me growing up and am thankful for you being such a wonderful part of my life every day.  I am thankful for the perspective that being a mother now brings to my childhood.  I am thankful for the support, love and friendship that you bring to my life as an adult.

My heart is with you on this new journey.  I will support you as you did me.  I will send love, warmth and positivity across the miles and visit you often.

Be strong.  Fight to walk again.  Keep the negative thoughts at bay and recognise the small steps of recovery.  Speak up when you are sad.

Above all, know that we love you beyond measure and say when you need us - I'll be there for you Mum.

Always and Forever.

J xx   

Monday, 17 September 2012

Managing Acute & Chronic Pain is a Real Pain

As the children have been back at school for a couple weeks now, we're all settling back into routines.  I love my time with the children during the holidays but it is also nice to get some more time to myself during the term time.  I find I can pace myself through the day better because I can plan my day's activities that bit more. 

I don't enjoy the active morning starts though. 

I have to take strong painkillers to be able to put any weight on my left leg since my accident.  I walk with a crutch / crutches / use a wheelchair / scooter depending how my condition is on each day.  It's unpredictable, which can be frustrating.

So, when my hubby gets up early for work (5:30am) I take my first batch of tablets (tramadol, paracetamol & oral morphine).  I take lots more throughout the day but this morning combination works great if I can then have a couple more hours in bed to let the painkillers work before I get up and put my weight on the leg...  However, during term time that's usually just not possible.  The morning routine, no matter how I've tried to jiggle it around, means that I am up and on my legs before I'm properly pain relieved.  Then, I struggle to get on top of my pain until around 2pm later that day, when I'm about to get ready to collect the children and extra movement will result in more pain.... 

Over the holidays, the way I manage my pain works well because we can have 'slower' mornings.  We may be up early, but the main movements are limited.  It's been a shock to my system again this term- the impact that having a good pain management regime has and how change affects it.  I can't take any more drugs (trust me) but struggle with pain versus the need to do things to be happy.  A tricky combination when the more activity you do the more it hurts...

If I do something that's important to me or the family (like R's party) and then have extreme pain (resulting in me spending Sunday mainly in the bedroom) then I've learnt to accept that because the trade off for me was worth it.  But doing something that is so 'normal' like school drop off (even though I park right outside) has become a huge obstacle in my daily life. 

I don't want to moan, because I've come to terms with what has happened to me and value all the other elements in my life which might not otherwise have been.  But I do struggle emotionally with not being physically able to do tasks that most people don't have to think about.  I may be able to do them at a push (trust me I'm quite a determined character) but there will always be a price to pay in terms of pain and mobility at a later time-whether that's the day after or during that night.  There's an emotional element too - the need to be fully 'with it' so I can function as a mother as opposed to the level of pain experienced, which again impacts on mood, reactions to situations - actually impacts on everything.

It's not an easy thing to overcome and I know what the problems are for me, which I guess is progress from previous years. I did participate in a Pain Management programme at Frenchay Hospital and found it very interesting.  I have applied so many of these techniques (being kind to myself, saying no, medicine use etc) but there is no cure for the pain / disability I now face.  Yet, I want to be the best mother I can be and not simply say "Not now dear, mummy's legs hurt" because that'll only be the big stick I beat myself up with later on.

Hmmmm.  Overcoming the school run is definitely a tricky one for me.  Activity when not fully pain relieved is excrutiating.  But the children need to go to school!!  I can't take my meds any earlier because I have to space them throughout the day to last a 24 hour period which is already being pushed.

This post has become a discussion of the issue straight from my head...  I don't have the answers but I know I'm not the only disabled mum that struggles with pain / disability and all that that brings.  Sometimes it just helps to know that someone else is experimenting too... trying to find a way that works for our family.  So there we are.  That's what I'm trying to overcome at the moment!

My accident didn't just mean my legs don't work well anymore.  It means I'm always in pain.  It's only the level of that pain that changes.  But I'll keep trying.  I'll keep smiling and looking for simple things or moments that bring happiness - of which there are so many. 

It would be a horrible world without that.... 

J9 x

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Rainbow Magic Fairy Party

On 7th September R celebrated her 7th birthday.  Time is passing so quickly and I cannot believe that 7 years have passed since she joined our family.  A precious gift indeed.

This year, she requested a 'puppy' birthday cake for months (since June in fact!).  In the last few days before her birthday she decided that she'd rather have a rainbow magic birthday cake - with a puppy on it!?!  Oh right, yes.... I'm sure I can muster up something!!

I wasn't enormously impressed with my efforts I have to say.  Ruby the Red Fairy was very difficult to make - flat and in 3D!!  But R and her friends did gasp with excitement (I love that feeling!)

We always decorate the lounge after the children have gone to bed on the eve of their birthday so they wake to the surprise on their birthday morning.  I tried to continue the rainbow theme - I made some quick felt bunting (and added a few colours to the rainbow - maybe artistic license?!)....

....and hung balloons in colourful arches.  It did the trick anyway and we woke to squeals of delight as they entered the lounge.

On Saturday, we had a few friends over for a party tea.  R had very few requests - she wanted to play in the garden, make a fairy den and do something 'arty'.  We've never encouraged the 'big' party thing and each year they seem to be delighted with a home run party or a family day out.  When R suggested her requests it did warm my heart...such simple things to achieve happiness.  Great I thought - 'arty' just up my street!!

So, we decorated fairy wing biscuits...

Little B had a friend over and they decorated dinosaur biscuits.  I just love the look of concentration on this little tiger's face!

....Made glow stick wands

Then ate and played pass the parcel in the fairy den:

I have to say we all adored the fairy den and would love it to be a permanent fixture but I'll have to take it down in a couple of days as you can't see the television with it up (plus it's attached to our light fitting so not sure it's entirely appropriate!).  I got the voile at the local charity shop a week before the party - I went in on the offchance they had some voile curtains and there was this fabric - just waiting for me.  Some of it has elves and fairies printed on it - it definitely was the universe working on my side!!  It's true to say that I skipped (metaphorically speaking) to the checkout astonished at my luck!

And then we played all sorts of games outside (thankfully the weather was extremely kind).  I hid colourful marbles outside and the children searched for them - I told them that the premise of the game was that Jack Frost had stolen the colours of the rainbow and they had to find them to bring colour back to the world - simple, but they really enjoyed it!

We played Fairy Footsteps (which was miraculously similar to Grandmothers Footsteps!)

I also printed off some door hangers off this site . I reinforced them with card but they happily coloured these in and took them home!!

They also found delight in blowing bubbles for Milo (our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel) to burst.  He can jump feet - I've never seen a dog react to bubbles like it and it caused great laughter amonst R's friends.

So, another birthday celebrated and over before you know it.  I'm so proud of the big girl she is becoming.  A beautiful, feisty, independent, bright and cuddly girl who has brought real joy to our lives.  Thank you sweet heart.

I wonder what next year's partys will bring.  Both R & B asked us to have another party soon - "Just for fun!"  Hmmmm.... I do love a good party!  I heartily enjoyed the company of all the children during the afternoon, and I felt so blessed; that the sun had shone, R & her friends were so engaged with all the activities I'd sorted and that I could be part of their contagious excitement in life.  It goes to show that Simple Things are often those that produce so much happiness.

J9 x

Monday, 10 September 2012

Celebrating 10 years of Marriage in Bath

I met my husband during our first year at University way back in 1996.  I knew very quickly that the relationship we had was very special.   We married at the Alverton Manor in Truro on August 16th 2002.  It was a marvellous day and although we'd lived together for years beforehand, it made us feel more complete.

Through all our ups and downs of life we are each other's constant. 

We were so lucky to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary in Bath.  We had a fantastic day starting with a coffee and relax in the square watching the street artists.

I took a trip to Cath Kidston and purchased some naughty but nice things ;0)  It was all half price so of course I left the shop triumphant!!  Both the material and the wallpaper are for future furniture makeovers I have in mind.  The paper chains were from a little independent shop but are my kinda thing so they were purchased with a big grin!!

We wandered around, exploring little side streets and resting when my body wouldn't go on.  It was a wonderfully relaxed and indulgent day out.  Something that we so rarely have the opportunity to do. 

One thing other than the beautiful architecture that grabbed me was the shop window display  below.  Apologies for the quality of the photo - I've tried many times to get a better picture but essentially, these are all vintage singer sewing machines used as the shop front. 

I thought it was inspiring and completely beautiful.

It was made even more special by the knowledge that the littlies were happy and safe with 'Uncle & Auntie' and were being treated like royalty!!

The day was completed with high tea at the Pump Room.

It is such a beautiful room it takes your breath away.  The central chandelier and cornicing all add to the grandeur and I could so imagine being an aristocrat, dancing merrily around the ballroom all those years ago! 
We had a complimentary glass of champagne and the service, food and ambience was spectacular.  We returned home having consumed far too much but with a happy glow in our heart.  It is the memory of days like this that carry us through the demands of busy life.   What a treat indeed!

 J9 x

Friday, 7 September 2012

Happy Holidays: The Final Installment!

The final day of our holiday was drizzly wet so we decided to head West.  "The weather always clears quicker" my mother says, "down the West".

We headed to Heartlands.  A fabulous development in mid Cornwall.  It's used European funding to rejuvenate historic tin mines and  it is very impressive! .  As a free to enter venture, it was well worth a visit.  My pictures didn't do it justice as it was raining while the kids played so I've included some from the site linked above.

Robinson's Engine House

R especially loved the pulley systems, cranes, sieves and sand tubes where you could play being a miner.  We only visited the play park and were forced to leave due to the weather deteriorating but the play equipment was so tactile and natural.  There were tunnels made of woven willow and all the climbing equipment was made from sustainable timber.  I loved the natural colours and textures in the adventure park, set against the backdrop of the repaired engine house it was quite remarkable.

Heartlands Cornwall

A holiday trip to the West Country would not be complete without a trip to my favourite place of all time, St. Ives.  Sadly, I was a little disappointed.  Not by the beauty of the beaches, the light or the sea.  We visited in peak season and the feeling is entirely different.  Since my father died we've spent 5 christmases staying in St. Ives.  There's nowhere else I'd rather be out of season.  The beautiful white sands, the turquoise seas and the selection of awesome beaches within walking distance is food for the soul.  With each breath it revitalises you.  Yes, I love the natural state of that place..... even on a misty wet day.

On this visit, I didn't even manage to hobble up the cobbles to the Cath Kidston store, through the crowds of people.  The town and harbour were immensely busy!!

We tried to escape the crowds and head to Porthmeor Cove; the children built in the sand and we enjoyed fabulously fresh fish and chips before heading home to Somerset.  It was a day of contentment and exploration, tinged with a little sadness for me.   I'm always a little melancholic when it comes to the day we leave.  I guess it's the knowing that I'm leaving my childhood home again... but leave we did.

The inevitable unpacking, washing and cleaning once home followed.  But we'd made memories to carry us through the mundane and routine.  I can let my mind wander anew to blue waters and rock pools with hidden splendour...

Happy Days.

J9 x

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Happy Holidays: Part II

The following day saw us meeting up with my sister and her family at Gyllnyvese Beach near Falmouth. 

I've loved this beach since childhood.  It's not a wonderful beach for sand but it's unmatched for rock pooling potential!!  I did my GCSE coursework based on the biodiversity within the differing zones of the reef so am a tad passionate about it.

It was a day where time passes without noticing - when you're in complete 'flow'.  Happy.

That rocky reef was the start of my journey to study conservation management at uni.  It was the kick start of recognising the magnificent wonder of the world God created.  Yes, those rock pools hold much wonder to me!

Each year, I've tried to share this simple joy with my babes - and this year, was the year I was rewarded with excitement, wonder, squeals of delight and much hopping on rocks.  Yep, a joyous moment.  Little B especially enjoyed it proclaiming "I'm a great fisherman I am.  I caught that fast fish!"
We found an amazing abundance of marine life - 5 cushion star fish, multiple brittle star fish, a small sea urchin, a large blenny, plenty of crabs and shrimps and a few differing types of fish I didn't know the names of!!

Beyond the rock pools my littlies joined their big cousins in play on the beach.  They wore their hand me down wetsuits and R tried body boarding for the first time.  Simple joys...

My fondest memory from this day though was laying head to head in a funny splayed triangle sieving the fine shingle looking for 'treasures'.  An hour of complete focus.  We found sea glass, shells worn like sharks teeth, tiny shells and a cowlrie.  I smiled as R found it - they're hard to find, quite rare really.  As children we camped a lot with my parents and if we harassed them, they'd send us to the beach to find a 'meal ticket' for that night's tea.  A meal ticket was always a cowlrie, and we'd search for hours til we found one.  Tricks of the parenthood trade ;o)  It's so funny how these little things stay with you.

It' funny that my most memorable moment of the day doesn't need a photograph to prompt it.  We were all fully present and in the moment.  But we still have their treasure.  R & B created a beautiful display with it once we returned to Granny's house.

We made the most of this day - beach volleyball, rock pooling, wave jumping, beach sieving and ended with a BBQ.
Great Fun.
J9 x

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Happy Holidays: Part I

My childhood home is nestled in a tiny village at the bottom of a valley in mid Cornwall.  I didn't appreciate it's location as a teenager but now I adore it!  We return and visit my mum relatively frequently for weekend visits (especially since my father passed away) and to catch up with my siblings who all still live in Cornwall with their families.  We'd love to return to Cornwall to live but work opportunities and house prices have meant that this is currently beyond us.  So, we visit and spend as much time with my mother and family in my beloved home county as we can.
Recently, we stayed with my mother for a different type of visit.  We were welcomed home to HOLIDAY!!!  We were determined to do holiday things - to prioritise us as a family and to enjoy some simple, quality time in nature's beauty.  We planned in a day to help my mum with house hold tasks that she can no longer manage and packed the other days with; beach combing,

wave jumping,

 zip wiring

and recognising gratefully the wonder of the world around us.

As a family we're easily pleased; a bit of water, no heavy rain and a pain relieved mum is all we need to have fun.  Due to my lack of mobility we always select beaches based on ease of access and those that are relatively unknown - so they're not ridiculously busy in high season.

Our first visit was Carne beach on the Roseland Peninsula.  As we arrived the heavens opened, so in true Brit fashion we picniced in our car.  On cue the rain stopped and we found a lovely spot by the rocks, sheltered from the rather blustery conditions.  The sand is clean but has a greyish hue due to all the kaolin and china clay mining that's gone on in the surrounding area.

Our perseverance was rewarded as the weather continued to improve throughout the afternoon.

We hunted for shells - and found only 23 limpet shells across the entire beach (a pretty awful offering). 

We had been warned about Weaver Fish being around the area so the littlies wore crocs in the water whilst jumping the waves.

 We found amazing patterns in the form of a jellyfish:
I guess our first beach day was an unexpected bonus, as the weather was predicted to be awful.  It wasn't actually as grey as the pictures suggest... though you can see in the two pictures below the shift in weather during the afternoon!

I actually prefer the rolling waves on the north coast but given that it's high season, the children aren't really strong swimmers yet and there was a major surf contest on we stuck to the South coast and it was still good for the soul.  The sound of the waves pounding in alone makes my heart happy.
We had lots of fun and the children got lots more confident in the water - this time they had loaned wetsuits from their cousins so could spend hours splashing around - never ending fun in their eyes - and never ending fun to watch them!!
I'll be back soon to tell of our other beachy days!
J9 x