Thursday, 14 November 2013

My Hardest Year

NaBlaPoMo 14

I've been distracted this week, a visit from my sister and Dad and writing placecards for a dear friend's wedding has meant my blog has taken a back seat, but I really had to post for todays NaBloPoMo.

What was your hardest age?

Yesterday my Dad turned 75! My Dad is my hero, he has been a steadfast friend, confident, counsellor. In my hardest year he was my rock, it was the year after my 30th birthday, I thought my life had fallen apart. With his support, that of my family and friends I got through it, picked myself up and embraced life again

The year after I turned 30 was absolutely the hardest year of my life
But I found out how strong I am.
I discovered the true value of my friends and family
Who propped me up, believed in me and made me feel 
Loved and Worthy and Capable.
Even when inside I felt that I had not the heart to endure another day.

I learned that I could be independent and decisive.
I made emornous, life-changing decisions
For myself and my children.
I changed my career, stepped off the treadmill 
And put my little family first.

I started the very slow journey to complete my degree.
And I rediscovered my love for running.
I ran and ran, running was therapy.
Leaders of the Free World  was poetry for my soul.

At the end of the year I met the most charming man,
Who I wasn't looking for but who gently fixed me.
He opened my heart again.
He opened my eyes to the beauty of mountains
And taught me about trust and patience.

Turning 31 was OK. No regrets, life was not over 
In fact the best chapters hadn't been written.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Capturing Happy Memories

NaBloPoMo 8

So far I've managed to keep my pledge to post every day in November, thanks to Vonnie's prompts at  A Woman Wearing Many Hats for the inspiration.

'Tell us about your profile picture or a picture you use on your 'about' me page.

I used to hate having my photo taken and subsequently there are many gaps in my photograph album, I have only one photograph of me pregnant with my second child and hardly any photos of myself with my first two children. I deeply regret this now, there are lots of photographs of them obviously as I was always taking pictures but so few with me in them. 
Things are different now. After I hit 30 I became much more accepting of who I am and far less self conscious. I want to remember myself in the happy moments I document and I want my children to remember too. This photo was taken last week on a walk with my children. It was a very simple but wonderful day. My youngest was wearing his new and first pair of wellies too. You can read my post about it here.

Ten years ago yesterday my Mum lost her fight against breast cancer. She died just after my second child was born and I have only 2 photos of her with him. I am so glad that I have so many photos of my mum,  I didn't inherit my camera shyness from her thankfully. My children won't really remember Granny Annie but they'll see that she loved them and they will have a happy picture of her in their minds.

 Photographs are such a wonderful way of preserving memory. I remember reading about a couple who met and married  just before he was posted in WWII, it made me smile when I read that the woman was worried that she might not recognise her husband when he returned from war after 2 years, as she had no photo of him and they had not know each other for very long before! Of course she did recognise him but it's a good reminder to me of  how lucky we are now to be able to record all our memories so easily and I always give a big cheesy grin for the camera these days.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

An Autumn Den Under the Kitchen Table

An Autumn Den
woodland themed Autumn den

An afternoon stuck in the kitchen was on the cards today as I needed to bake and decorate a cake for my Dad's 75th birthday at the weekend. What better way to keep my toddler from emptying all my kitchen cupboards than an Autumn Den under the Kitchen table. It took about 10 minutes to put together while he was napping, when's a little older he can help build it.
So easy and hours of will be staying up until the others get home from school, you're never to old to appreciate a homemade den!

Hello! Is anyone in there?

'Reading' the Gruffalo, upside down of course

Sticks with leaves cut from felt attached

Curly Kale and gorgeous Barefoot Books owl puppet

A little aside here for my answer to today's NaBloPoMO  7 prompt in which Vonnie's asks;

 'Social media allows you to mask parts of your personality and show others. What percentage of yourself do you think you reveal of yourself online?'

I've been blogging for 2 weeks so the short answer is I'm not sure yet. But social media should always be in part an edited version of your real self. The reason for this I believe is that our lives are so intrinsically connected with those of other people that we have to protect the anonymity and privacy of others when required or requested. That is not to say that what you reveal through social media should only be the edited highlights, we should strive to be as honest and authentic as possible. But bloggers are storytellers and even autobiographies will only ever be one person's version of a truth. I believe that social media can be an important platform for sharing experiences good and bad. I wouldn't want to intentionally 'mask parts of my personality' but by being selective about the experiences I blog about, the things I tweet or share and by respecting the privacy of others it will always be that I can't reveal myself entirely online.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Today I Started a Toddler Group and Reversed into My Neighbour's Car

Today's NaBloPoMO 6 is to blog about a time when everything fell into place. That happened to me today (sort of)!!

This Morning...

At 9.30am as I loaded up the car with toys, craft and cake, I felt pretty nervous. I had volunteered with a friend to help set up and run a local mother and toddler/baby group, I'm still new to the area where we live and I know how important these groups can be for parents, but I don't really know anyone and I did have a moment wondering to myself why I had agreed to it but it was too late to back out;

I'd sorted out a huge box of toys and books
Washed a big quilt for the babies to play on
Planned a craft activity ( Colourful Fish)
And I'd baked a cake
So I had to get on with it and just hope that Parents and Grandparents would come along and enjoy it! Thankfully they did, not loads but enough for us to get to know each other a little, share stories and local information and for our children to play together and do some craft making, it was lovely, coffee and cake and the possibility of new friendships for us and our babes.

And Then There Was This Afternoon...

When I very stupidly reversed into the side of my neighbours car. Which clearly was not part of the plan today. I knocked on his door with dread in order to apologise as it's dark I couldn't be sure what damage there was. I haven't actually met this neighbour yet so I'll be honest I was expecting rage (I hate confrontation) or at the very least annoyance and irritation when he came to look. But he was totally lovely (and no I wasn't crying!). He said 'Don't worry, it really doesn't matter, even if it's dented I'm not worried about it it's an old banger'. (it clearly isn't)...and then we introduced ourselves. So perhaps my day didn't entirely fall in to place in the end  but I've met some genuinely lovely people, which is more than I could have hoped for today so I'm happy with that.

And if you fancy a weaning friendly banana loaf which just might be my lucky charm, I'll be posting that later.

Perhaps I ought to give the leftovers to my neighbour!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

How I Remember the 5th of November

NaBloPoMO 5

Today in the UK it is Guy Fawkes Night (or Bonfire Night). Do you like this day? How do you feel about fireworks?

I have such mixed feelings about Bonfire Night. We will be going to a local fireworks display on  Friday but believe it or not in my life I've only ever been to 5 or 6 and we've never had fireworks in the garden either.
As a child I was never allowed to go to a firework display. We lived in a 1930's apartment block that overlooked the Town Moor in Newcastle and I would look longingly out the window at the silent magic that I saw in the night sky. We always were given some Lego on bonfire night as recompense for staying in and looking back I'm not sure whether it was my family's Catholic principles or my Mum's fear of fireworks causing accidents that was the real reason for not going to a display. Obviously lego is brilliant but I remember really feeling that we were missing something special out there.

Over the years that followed I never really thought about fireworks much, I went to the odd bonfire and had hot chocolate and baked potatoes but it wasn't until I was 21 that I saw my first real fireworks display. It was on Blackheath were I was living then, the display there at that time was the best in London and I was mesmerised and terrified in equal measure. Since then I've seen a few other displays, mostly in support of my children's PTA at their old school who organised a popular local event. I'm still a bit like a child about the whole thing, I am transfixed by the fireworks but I'm really not keen on  the noise!

What I don't like about Bonfire Night is the burning of effigies. There is something about it that makes me feel very uncomfortable. This year Edenbridge will be burning a giant effigy of Katie Hopkins, last year it was Lance Armstrong. There are many public figures that are difficult to like but there are far more sophisticated ways of poking fun at them I feel. 'Bah Humbug'...sorry !

I will really enjoy all the dazzling colours and sparkling lights when we go to see the fireworks on Friday but I will have earplugs in my bag for me and the children just in case.

Photos are republished with kind permission from Dan Phelps. Dan's photo blogging project LEGO365 is still available to view but  he now blogs about other stuff too at

Monday, 4 November 2013

Surprise, Surprise.....or not as the case may be!

NaBloPoMo 4

Am I easily tricked and do I fall for things?

That's a tricky one. I'm easy to surprise if that's the same thing. My family and friends organised a big surprise party for my 30th birthday and I never had a clue. My husband recently hand built a Touring Bike for me, it was custom painted and involved lots of secretive trips around the country for parts. Reassuringly this was incredibly stressful for him and he worried that I would be cross at how secretive he had been ! I wasn't the bike is beautiful and it means between us we can now carry enough clobber for the whole family to do some touring next year.

So I suppose I can be fairly easily tricked. But I'm no good at playing tricks and  I can't tell a lie (I go very, very pink). I hate the burden of a secret even a nice one. It's my worst nightmare when somebody says 'Can I tell you something? Promise not to tell anyone?.' It's not that I like to gossip or I can't be trusted or that I'm disloyal but the secret will hang over me and I'll be terrified of spilling the beans.

 This I think stems from a Christmas many many years ago when I was tasked with the job of getting my younger sister's Christmas present back from the shop and hidden before she got home. It was a pretty big present to hide (a small pool table) and the van driver and I had struggled to get into the garage and had only just managed it when my mum and sister came home.
My Mum asked, 'Is everything alright?',
I'm guessing she had given me a wink or 'a look' at this point that I missed because I went on to say;
 'Yes but you wouldn't believe the job we had getting that pool table into the garage!'
 Then the look on my Mum's face at that point was not so hard to read though, it took a moment for the penny to drop and for me to realise that, within a few moments of concealing the biggest surprise that Christmas I'd already let the cat out of the bag, my little sister was standing there - surprise ruined ! I was mortified and it took a while for my Mum to see the funny side!

I'm happy I think to stay on the receiving end.

<a href=""><img src="" alt="NaBloPoMo November 2013" height="255" width="298"></a>

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Should I Jump in a Puddle or a Pile of Leaves? Can I Do Both Please?

NaBloPoMo Day 3

Which is better to jump in a leaf pile or a puddle?

This was today's prompt suggested by Vonnie for National Blog Post Month and I'm in such a dilema! This half term has been wonderful for getting outdoors, we've had lovely weather, lovely walks, leaf piles a plenty and 'The Big Storm' left lots of lovely puddles. Genuinely it's to hard to call. We finally found wellies small enough for my youngest, at 17 months he has tiny feet, size 3, and it took a long time to find some in his size. They arrived last weekend so this week we have been christening them over and over, on the beach, in puddles and in mud! We've so enjoyed walking in the woods kicking and playing in the fallen leaves, collecting acorns and leaves and sticks too.

enjoying the fallen leaves

muddy puddle before we tracked down some wellies

mission puddle jumping !

splash, splash, splash!!

new wellies

a walk in the woods

How funny, looking back at our half term snaps there is a favourite after all...........puddles, muddle puddles and paddling at the beach. We love to jump in a puddle especially with new wellies.

<a href=""><img src="" alt="NaBloPoMo November 2013" height="255" width="298"></a>