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.