Friday, March 8, 2019

Wonderful Women who make my world a better place



With today being International Women's day, it feels only right to celebrate some of the wonderful women I am lucky to have in my life.

Women who inspire me, help me, protect me, care for me, support me and love me and women that I hope i offer the same to in return.

It would be so easy to make this about my Mum, she was my biggest inspiration. She taught me so much. And loved me unconditionally. I know that without her here it is harder to see and feel that love and support but over time I am learning to hold on to all she offered me in life.

But I want to focus on all those that have held me up over the years and so much over the last year.

My Auntie's, they mean more to me than I can ever say. I am so grateful that we have a close relationship which I know can be difficult when you're spread out across the world.

Individually they are all such strong and powerful women but together they are a force to be reckoned with! 

Then there is the new family, who have opened their arms to me and accepted me in to the fold so to speak. And to the girls who have allowed me to become a step-Mum, thank you.

My close friends are always there to support me and inspire me and they do all the time. They are friends i have met in so many different walks of life. From school to work to internet forums. They are all so unique and our friendships vary but at the forefront is love and respect. They have all taught me so much. Taught me what friendship is and how wonderful life is with them beside me.

I would not be the person I am without their continued support.

There are the friends that I am in complete awe of. Those who are so focused and have made their way in the world of Business. They show me that anything is possible if you want it enough and that working hard for it pays off. 

If you want to see their success for yourself you can check out Twinings home fragrance and Sarah at 1:1 diet Coventry 

I love their attitude and that they are never afraid to push themselves even harder.

I am not a celeb follower so I can't say I take much in the way of influence from those in the media, But I am a huge fan of the Queen. I am a royalist and I am not afraid to admit it!

She has been a huge part of the history of this country and the work she does is phenomenal. She, to me is the ultimate power woman and I hope she continues to be fabulous and fearless for years to come!

Then there's the amazing staff at Myton Hospice who cared for Mum. The love they showed us all as a family is like nothing I have ever experienced in a medical facility. They went above and beyond for Mum and 1000's like her.

I'll admit to spending a lot of time wondering if it was a job I could do, but I think it takes a special kind of person to make a someone's last days in this world as calm and comfortable as possible. I will always be in awe of them.



I feel like I should say that I have so many amazing Men in my life as well, but lets be honest... Today isn't about them is it!

I feel so far from a feminist most of the time but on a day like this I feel the importance of telling those strong women around me how special they are to me. 

Telling them that my life is better because of them.

I am happier for having them.

I am wiser because of all they have shown me and taught me.

I am full of love and it is thanks to them.

I really feel that we should spend more time building up those around us rather than knocking them down. 

We should all take some time to show our appreciation for those we hold so dear, today and every day.

So to all my fabulous, strong, loving women in my life, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you are. Ladies you are so much more important to me than you'll ever know. I love you!

And now I am crying so I shall call it a night and pour myself a gin and I'll be raising it for you.


Who inspires you? Who makes your life that much better? Go and tell them, Life is too short not to.











Wednesday, March 6, 2019

My favourite homemade gifts





I love to give gifts, probably more than I like to receive. But for me, being able to make something for those I love is really special.


Scrapbook

I have made several scrapbooks over the years. It means I can combine my love of card making buying pretty craft papers and real photographs. 

I always print pictures, its lovely to have a phone full of memories but I think it is even more special to have those memories in your hand, on the wall, in frames around the house or in a scrapbook.

I started with one for a friend for Christmas a few years ago. I filled it full of pictures and text and it documented our friendship.

I made another a few years later for another friend and her daughter, it was full of all the memories we'd made together over the years. It was lovely to make as it allowed me to look back over years of great times.

The most recent one I made was for my Mum for her Birthday. I'd been working on it for such a long time, but when she got ill i knew I had to finish it. It was an emotional moment to give it to her for her birthday, less than a month before she died. She loved it. I gave it to her the day before her birthday and told her to open it the next day. I left the room and came back to find her working her way through it - why I thought she'd ever hold off i'll never know! 

I decorated another one for my Sister-in-law's 40th Birthday, She had spent the year doing big things for her 40th birthday so i wanted to make something she could document it in.






I am not sure if i'll make another now, maybe I have exhausted that one!


Letters to the Bride

This was technically a scrapbook as well but had the added surprise of letters from the brides family. This was my gift to my best friend on her wedding day. I'd spent a few months collecting letters from her friends and family to add in to the book alongside pictures documenting her relationship with Husband to be and our friendship. It even featured in the wedding photographers video.




365 notes

For Rob's Valentines present last year i made a box full of 365 messages. These were memories of our time together, reasons i love him, quotes and song lyrics. It took me moths to find them and write them all up on colour coded cards, a true labour of love. But I really enjoyed making it and giving it to him. We have not kept up with a note a day but we do enjoy going through them together.


40 messages for your 40th

My best friend recently turned 40, I wanted to do something memorable for her, something special so i contacted all of her friends and family and asked them to write her a message for her birthday or their favourite memory of her. In hindsight I should have started a bit earlier as I found it all a little stressful because I didn't really anticipate how difficult it would be to contact people that I don't have on social media. But it came together and I enjoyed reading all the lovely things people had to say about her. I hope she did as well.


Family Tree

For Christmas, I made our friends and family a family tree. It was such a simple idea but I was so pleased with how they turned out, and I think the recipients were as well which is what its all about.


365 writing prompts

For Rob's Christmas present this year, I compiled a list of questions, One a day, that would encourage us to write each day. It was great fun to put together, a big shoutout to the wonder that is Pinterest for its inspiration. 6 weeks in to the year and we are still enjoying this challenge.



Handmade cards

After Mum passed away, i started making cards again in a bid to keep busy. But before that I made them to sell. After a long break though, one of my favourite projects were the invites for my best friends surprise hen do, She had no idea what the theme was until she received the invite which gave it away for her!



Activity Jars

Now the whole idea behind this blog started from a jar I made for us all last christmas, A jar full of ideas for activities for the year ahead. I made one for a friend and her family that included Date ideas for her and her husband.

I also made a date night jar for my friend and her husband and loved hearing all about the things they did together thanks to the jar.


With some milestone birthdays coming up over the next few years, I am looking forward to finding more ideas for handmade gifts to share with those I love.




Monday, March 4, 2019

My 2 parenting steps




1. Realisation 

You realise that the washing basket will never be empty. This lends itself nicely to the ironing basket, same rule applies.

You realise that your lie in days are behind you, this also goes for having a whole evening to yourself before 8.30pm…. or later if you’re really lucky!

You also realise that the house will never look like a show home even after bedtime.

You learn that you’ll always be called on for food and drink requests, constantly, ALL THE DAMN TIME! And you will never have enough food in the house to keep them topped up to an acceptable level.

You realise that your new role as referee doesn’t come with a striped t-shirt or a whistle but that you really should invest in both.

You realise that the song you’ve been humming on and off for 5 years is from ‘In the night garden’ which would be ok if you’d watched it in the last 8 years!

You also realise that for as much fun as the idea of a day out, a holiday or any other significant occasion it brings with it its own kind of stress. And that includes just leaving the house for half an hour!

You realise that a car is never going to be big enough for a family of 5, even a car that is the same size as a coach would still allow room for arguments on who sits where, who is taking up the most room and which toy belongs to which child because you can FORGET sharing!

Most importantly, a new realisation for me, pudding is EVERYTHING!


2. Acceptance

You accept the ever growing washing pile as a sign of good days. Days filled with hard work and fun. You accept that actually ironing really is the biggest waste of time so you cross that off your list and decide that actually washing is quite an easy task. In fact it is the easiest job in my opinion, but if someone could do the putting away, that'd be great!

      You accept that a lie in and early bedtimes are a thing of the past but you accept that it’s not forever and you’ll soon be dragging them out of bed or pleading with them to spend some time with you. So embrace the long days, the extra time with these small people while they are still small.

      One day you accept the house you call home together will be clean and rather empty feeling. You’ll also learn how to get slime out of carpets and playdoh unlodged from plug holes.

      You accept that they need to be fed ALL THE DAMN TIME and be grateful that they can ask and that you can afford to forfill their requests. You’ll also accept that they will find your stash and you’ll gladly share that as well!

       You’ll accept the role of referee gladly, even without the accessories, because it’s normal and you’ll be glad that they haven’t yet killed each other so you’re actually quite good at this new role.

        You’ll accept that damn song in your head because it was probably the last time you remember snuggling up together on the sofa before bed for much needed cuddles, that didn’t come with a whole heap of protesting.

        You’ll accept that the stress you feel now when going out as a family is temporary, again it won’t be long before your time is your own and you’ll actually have so much free time that you’ll be able to fill that time with stressing about where they are and what they are doing.

        You’ll accept that maybe you have to sit in the back between children at war - see referee point -  while another sits in your shotgun seat taking control of the music choices because one day they’ll be off driving themselves and again your stress levels will increase for the above reasons.

         And you’ll accept that pudding is EVERYTHING because frankly it is!!

So as a parent do you have any other realisations and acceptance moments? I can’t be alone

Friday, March 1, 2019

Review 2 of 12




Well if January was the longest month on record then February is definitely the shortest. I mean did I just blink and miss it or have I got the date wrong??

We were certainly able to fit a lot in, so it must have happened.


Disney Haul



With the countdown on, I began to get items for the children’s Disneyland reveal bags. Thank god for Primark! I have been able to kit the girls out with some lovely clothes and plenty of goodies to keep them occupied for 12 hours on a coach. But the boy is proving a little trickier. At 11 he is a bit beyond Disney sticker books and Mickey Mouse t-shirts if you can even find them that is!

Help??? He has a pair of Mouse ears and a Disney journal so far. Any ideas would be greatly received. 

I do wish that all those lovely clothes for children came in adult sizes though. I feel like I am being punished for growing up!




Valentine's day

I wasn’t sure if we were celebrating this year, so I bought a slightly novelty based gift and a card and held back on them. When I was presented with a box of chocolates, I made a quick dash to put Rob’s together. Grateful that I’d thought to buy something!

Happy with the thought of a meal deal for 2 and a bottle of wine in the fridge, I went off to work. But when my colleague came in to the office with a huge box containing a dozen red roses, I was pretty sure there was a mistake!



Never before has anyone sent me flowers, the boy did good. It really lifted my spirits and we had a wonderful evening together (Highly recommend by-passing tesco’s Valentines meal deal and opting for their normal £10 meal deal that was hidden away!)


New Hair!

I can’t be alone here. Going to the hairdressers is such a rare occurrence, that it is a really big deal!

I went and bought myself a fancy coffee, took a book and I was ready for a full on ‘do-over’. I do forget though that sitting in front a mirror for 3 hours while making small talk is actually really not a pleasant way to spend a Saturday morning. Especially when you reduce the hairdresser to tears… Long story (And I was not being some evil customer btw), but I was slightly worried that she might not come back and I’d leave the hairdressers worse than I came in!

’.


But much to my delight, they’d done a fabulous job, and even 2 weeks later I am loving my ‘new hair


Portugal

I cannot tell you how excited I was to be packed and ready to go off on our first foreign holiday together. With Dad and F in tow.

With hope of some sunshine and lots of family time ahead of us, the countdown was finally over.

And although we landed to rain which continued well in to our first full day, the holiday was all we’d wanted and more. And the sun made a welcome and warm appearance.




Spending time with Family becomes more and more important to me, and if the sun is shining that is even better.

Picnic’s on the beach, swimming in an outdoor pool, crazy golf in short sleeves, good food, and great wine and even better company.

It was a full on few days but it could not have been more perfect. I have come back full of smiles, happy memories and a sense of wellbeing that has been missing for some time.




What an amazing place to stay! if you're looking for somewhere to stay not too far from Faro, this is worth checking out here Casa Andorinha


Unfortunately for my bank balance, I have also come down with a serious case of Wanderlust and I am in desperate need to get away again.


Home Time

We felt ready to come home and combat some work on the house. If we weren’t exhausted before we certainly were after that. Rob worked so hard, and I take my role as project manager very seriously! It was so lovely to have time off together and feel like we accomplished something.

To celebrate our achievements, it only felt right to get dolled up and head in to Coventry to sample some of the finest cocktails on offer.

Now if you like a cocktail and ever find yourself in Coventry you’d be spoilt for choice! But I would highly recommend trying The Botanist, for the experience as well as the vast array of cocktails.

It felt like a million miles from Coventry and in fact we could have been on holiday still. 


Party

Now January is a busy birthday month and February doesn't like to feel left out, so why not stick two birthdays a week apart?? This time its the girls, and at the risk of sounding like a mentalist, i could think of nothing worse than filling my house full of people and making endless cups of tea and coffee and supplying cake to the masses.

(I Love my friends and family but it is a little overwhelming!)

So a church hall was the best solution, and what an amazing afternoon we had. The children were fed endless amount of cake, painted each others faces (and arms and hands and anywhere they could reach really!) and played games.

One game I highly recommend is the chocolate bar game. The basic idea is a bar of chocolate in its wrapper and then wrapped in paper. Everyone sits in a circle and rolls a dice. The first to roll a 6 has to then put a hat, scarf and gloves on and use a knife and fork to try and open the chocolate. The circle continue to roll the dice and every time someone rolls a 6 its time to swap over. Its frantic and frustrating but they all held it together and loved it.

I had the best day, and just to prove it here is a rare picture of me with the children.




The secret Buddy

Soon enough it was back to work. But I was pleasantly surprised when a letter arrived for me. It was a lovely card thanking me and telling me to keep being amazing.

This is all thanks to my secret buddy. This is something that has been introduced at work, we are each paired up with someone and our mission is to do nice things for our buddy. This idea is right up my street. And it really perked up my first day back in work.

So thank you to whoever my buddy is, it is much appreciated.

I also enjoyed leaving my buddy a little surprise. Although sneaking it to a place they will find it caused much stress, i resembled some kind of smuggler. I think it is safe to say I'm not very good at it but I didn't get caught so maybe I am better than I thought. I'll be a pro by the end of the year!


The great electronics ban

As I am sure you're all aware, the use of the internet and young children has been all over the news and social media this week. F is a huge lover of all things electronic much to my disliking! 

I decided to try to limit his usage and encourage him to do things with me.... Much to his disliking *sigh*

I managed 2 nights before the much anticipated SEASON 8 RELEASE!!! (I think I am supposed to care!) 

We cooked together one night, F made a sausage casserole for him and Rob and it was a hit, He loved being in charge of it all.

The next night I embarked on some serious child labour, We cleared what felt like 10 tonnes of rubble from the garden. He was ace and just got stuck in and did more than I'd asked him to.

And what really made it special is when putting him to bed, he thanked me for an awesome night.

Maybe if we can do 2 electronic free nights a week, we'd both find a balance.that works.

The Weather

I think a little nod to the crazy, nonseasonal weather is a must. If you think this time last year, we were being hit by the 'Beast from the East' and this week we've seen 20 degrees in some parts. I cant help but be a little concerned about what we have done to the world, but I'll be honest and say some sun and a good dose of vitamin D is so good for the soul.




And just like that we are done for another Month, I wonder what delights March has in store?















Thursday, February 21, 2019

Where do they go?




I had never given the afterlife much thought before.

Even when those i loved passed away. I didn't feel the need to know where they were. I accepted that they were gone and that was that.

But since Mum, I spend far too much time thinking about what happens when we pass away.

It would be so easy for me to accept the idea of Heaven. I do suspect it would be a wonderful place. A place where those we loved and lost are waiting for us, somewhere free from pain and sadness. A place we can enjoy all that we loved. A place we are safe and happy.

But is this idea simply to put our grieving mind at rest? Help us to find some sense of peace about losing those dear to us.

Do we need to follow religion to believe in Heaven? Is it right to believe in this if religion is not a significant part of our life?

Or could the afterlife be the world we live in but on spirit level? This leads me to wonder if the dead even know they are dead - I think I may have watched the sixth sense too much!
Plus the thought of being surrounded by dead people freaks me out a little.

I know some people truly believe their loved ones are with them all the time, that they show themselves to them in many forms. A butterfly, or a white feather, a Robin or the sudden appearance of a familiar scent.

But I feel that if my Mum was here she'd be more obvious. She'd give me a sign that would leave me with no doubt that she was here. Maybe she'd leave a note, let me hear her voice one more time. I don't want subtle, I want smack me in the face obvious!

And then I wonder if there is no life after death, if once our body is gone we are just one with the Earth and there is no coming back from that, no ability to communicate with those we leave behind.

In honestly, I want her to be at peace but this does not stop me wondering all the time.

I wonder if she will be there waiting for me, or if she will come and get me when it is my time or I wonder if she is watching over someone else. Dad has said before he has heard her call him when he has been asleep, but as clear as if she was right there next to him. And F has been unsettled at night because he feels someone is watching him in his room.

But still I've not felt or seen anything at all.

And now I understand that it doesn't matter where they go, its how we choose to remember them that really counts. So when I pulled the car over to take in the triple rainbow, I knew it was Mum.

She's in the beautiful sunrises that she loved, and she is watching the sky fade to pink in the evening. She is her favourite song on the radio, she is with me when I watch her favourite films. She is in the full moon that shines bright and low in the sky. She will always be the light in the darkness. 

And I know that this is all I need now, she can't be with me in body but she will be with me in spirit, always. 




Tuesday, February 12, 2019

2019 brings new goals

A dream written down

They say a dream written down becomes a goal.
I gave this some serious thought this year. Resolutions seem almost pointless, I don’t know many people that really stick to them for the year. Purely based on the fact that we are mid way through February shows how much regard I have for them!
So I thought that maybe it was time to consider what my hopes and dreams are for the future rather than just 2019. Chanel some energy in to hobbies to allow for a new focus for the year ahead.
There will always be the obvious ‘Lose weight’ that will remain a goal for most of us, even if it is just the post-Christmas bulge that we have to work off until the one year we realise that 3 months of hard work is really not worth that extra 20 quality street or the bread slathered in pate and dripping in butter…. Surely not just me????
But this time I really need to focus on it, 2 stone gone for good. I have done it before but because I took my eye off the ball I need to do it again. I will remember how far I have come though and celebrate the fact I am never going to need to start over but the only way to make sure I don’t is to get back in control now.
And 5 weeks in to the New Year I am feeling good, it’s going to be a slow and long process but I’ll stick with it. Memories on Facebook is enough to keep me on the straight and narrow!




Scarily accurate!


I have always loved to write. As a child I loved playing teachers, writing stories and reading. To a certain extent that followed me in to adulthood. I love nothing more than writing lists, making notes and just finding any excuse to write at all. I just love to put pen to paper. I adore stationary. Buying a new notebook or pen really is one of life’s pleasures for me, something so small and almost insignificant in its cost but it always brings me so much joy. *heart eye emoji*
And then there is my blog, I have found this to be almost therapeutic. What started off as a snapshot of our adventures as a family became a place where I could open up honestly about what life was really like, the impact and the journey moving forward. The response from people has been overwhelming and I really felt like I had connected with people. Those people I had been worried I’d not offered enough support to in their time of need. I even shared this with my computer-phobic Dad which was a huge deal for me. I felt like I was exposing my grief to him when it was probably the last thing he needed, but he told me it bought him some comfort and it opened up communication about how we both felt. Before now, we skimmed over our true feelings in a bid to offer support and strength to each other while never really showing any sign of weakness. Allowing him to read this was certainly easier than talking about it.
And with each post I make and time, it does feel like I have less reason to be so sad. Hopefully I am turning a corner now and writing has certainly helped me to do that. And now I would love to grow my blog, reach a further audience. Its finding the right way to do this, so if you have any suggestions or tips, they'd be much appreciated!
This year though i'd like to write more. Not just blogs but to write about all sorts of things. To do this I spent a huge amount of time in November and December compiling daily writing prompts. I did a revision card for each month with a list of prompts for both Rob and I. I bought Rob a diary that is large enough to write a page a day and myself a new journal and on the 1st January, we began. The questions vary in their depth and seriousness. Some are light, some more thought provoking. As I wrote them out I had clear answers for the questions in mind already but in most cases, as i have come to write i have changed my mind and written about something else. 
We have slipped a little, in that we are not making time to write daily but I have found I am enjoying spending an hour doing 5-7 days at a time. And catching up on Game of Thrones before the new series starts in April has become a bigger priority of course! But I really hope we can make it all the way through.

This year I'd like to make more of my time. Use it more wisely, stop wasting it on social media, pointless tasks or sitting on my backside. I need this extra time to be more proactive. To allow me to make time for me, time for Rob and time for the children as well as family and friends. 
I want to find time to exercise until I love it again. I want to make the boy disconnect from electronics and spend time with me after school, I want to pluck my eyebrows once in a while, paint my nails and put face cream on every day if i decide to. I want to be on top of the housework so the weekend is not consumed by it. I want to make more time to be organised and declutter the house. I'd like to eat before 8.30pm every night, spend the evening with Rob doing whatever we feel like and just maybe go to bed and read a book.

What are your goals for the year ahead? Have you made a resolution and still going strong?