Sunday, 14 October 2012

How My Children See Me Meme: The Return

So in  2009 she made me do this and in 2011. And now AGAIN....really?

The 'she' is Tara at over at Sticky Fingers

That's right she is making my children draw their most hideous flattering drawings of me. Hmmm.

OK so here they are. From my eldest - who is now nearly 10, the masterpiece below.

I would like to mention that I don't have cats eyes but she has my wearing my favourite T-shirt which is nice. I also appear to have lost some weight. Win.

And from the six year old, who told me she was not in the mood to draw pictures before she drew this - and I think it shows.

By the way, I do have a nose, and I am not a fan of fake tan, and I haven't been this colour since I was eighteen.

As for arms and legs, who needs them? And again, I appear to have lost some weight, instead I am kinda tree trunk shaped. hmmm.

If you would like to participate in this meme then please do, go to the Sticky Fingers website for all the instructions.

I will drag a couple of people down with me into this, as I am curious what their small people will produce for them.

The lovely WitWitWoo and the equally gorgeous Mammasaurus

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The Gallery - Fitness

Like any parent, I want my children to eat healthily and be fit. Living in a city has some restrictions for them, I can't just let them run around in the street so there are alternatives.

My youngest will run, jump and skip everywhere, my eldest is more geeky (sadly, like me) her preference is to potter about, watch films, and play on her computer.

Both my girls love swimming and have been having lessons for a couple of years. However, they would kill me if I posted pictures of them in swimming costumes.

My eldest has been saying she would like to take up a martial art so after some consideration and research, we have sent them both to a mixed martial class every Saturday morning. They both love it, and have just earned their first belt. The picture below is before that on the day they got their suits.

I would recommend this to any parent, to get their first belt they both had to know how to ring 999 in an emergency, amongst other things.

Martial arts seems to be all about respect for one another, and now they have been doing it a few months I am really proud of them sticking with it.

For more fab photo's of fitness, go to the Gallery, and click on the linky's

Monday, 1 October 2012

Being the Best Mum

I have been thinking a lot lately, about being a working Mum.

I work as a Contact Centre Manager full-time, but compress my hours so I only work Tuesday to Friday.

Monday, I can take, and pick up, my girls from school and take them swimming. (This is largely, so I have a vague idea of what they are doing at school)

My girls are now 6 and 9 (nearly 10).

Nearly 10 (OMG)

When they were babies, leaving them felt like a physical ache, they were so small and needed me. The further away from them I was, the worse I felt. Even though hubs is super supportive.

When my eldest was about 6 months old I went back to work. I worked locally and it was fine. Then my offices moved to the City Centre. My commute changed from 20 minutes in the car to anywhere between three quarters of an hour to two hours. It was hideous. I lasted 6 weeks. It was the only time I left a job without another job to go to.

Yet, I have always wanted to work, I knew I would before I had the children and that didn't change. My job is important to me, it is part of who I am, I enjoy the responsibility and take pride in what I do. Sometimes, I even do it well.

My family and my husbands family aren't near by, and most of the time we manage well, between myself and hubs, equally.  I have a great childminder who helps me out and is super reliable, and the girls like her. I have come to realise this is a rare thing.

But, I don't think you can have it all. I think getting a work/life balance is impossible. But it becomes easier as your children get older. My girls are strong little people who don't seem to have suffered because I have missed bath times and bedtimes, or I am just plain too tired, when they want to talk to me. I feel a tiny bit less guilty than I did when they were babies. Only a tiny bit, mind.
6 years old 

Now, I am back working in the City Centre and the physical ache is slightly less, I have learnt to compartmentalise. When I am at work, I am at work, when I am at home I am at home. I don't take work home unless I really really have to, I don't sit chatting about my daughters current snotty noses, the Zog book that Lola loves or Heather changing and growing so much in the past year. They are separate, they are home, not work, and it helps me cope.

I think it is hard for women, we are given so many mixed messages. We should work, we should be strong, we should be glamourous, we need to have a child in one hand and be typing into a computer with the other. We are supposed to bake, glamourously (think Nigella, Sophie Dahl and Lorraine Pascale) whilst writing cook books, wearing heels (always), and yet we never put on any weight AND we are expected to raise our children whilst they wear nothing but Mini-Boden.

This is of course ridiculous. Or wishful thinking by some media mogul.

Actually, what happens, is we may manage a bit of cover up and mascara,  we might make some fairy cakes with the kids at the weekend, we will probably ferry them from one type of club to another (with mine it is dancing, martial arts and swimming). Wine see's us through most evenings, and showers happen when you really can't get away with it any more. School letters are missed and fancy dress outfits for school are not hand stitched but brought late at night from the all night supermarket.

My idea of a great weekend, these days is one were I have spent all weekend with the kids, preferably in pajamas, maybe with a walk up a hills somewhere with friends who have a dog.

I feel sad for new Mum's, the raging guilt for wanting to work,  I can't say anything to stop the guilt, but I suspect it is there for Mum's who don't work, because they don't work. I think the only thing you can do, is try to be the best Mum you can be, whichever way you can, and some of that involves you feeling fulfilled and happy.

Rant over, and of course a great excuse to show off baby photo's xxxx

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Silent Sunday

Monday, 24 September 2012

The Worst News

Last night I had a big cry, the sort with hiccups and snot. Talk about things catching you unaware.

The hamster, Bella, is old and dying. Her back legs don't work so well and she is pretty much blind. She is over two and a half years old, which is pretty ancient in dwarf hamster years.

She was brought for the kids, but I am the one who cleans her out and feeds her. I am the one that picks her up and plays with her.

I have been debating whether to clean her out or not, will it disorientate her? (even though her cage stinks).

I sat with her last night as she wibbled and wobbled around her cage, falling over and getting up again, going on her wheel, and falling off her wheel.

After this I headed up to bed, still thinking about little brave Bella, and there it is, I am sobbing, but it's not for Bella.

I remembered the day I told my Mum she was definitely going to die.

My brave, amazing Mum.

We were at Telford hospital, where she had had a stomach bypass operation, as the cancer was in the way and she couldn't eat. She had been there about 2 months and we were finally going to see her consultant.

So there we were; my Dad, who is fairly deaf and had had a heart attack 6 months prior to this which had left him being intermittently confused; my Mum, who was equally deaf and recently partially sighted, a cancer nurse, the consultant and me.

The consultant showed us a picture on the screen (which my Mum couldn't see), which he explained was the cancer. He said it had encompassed her kidneys, 'oh yes, she was in kidney failure, and has been for sometime', he said, as if this was common knowledge. It wasn't, we had no idea.

All I could see was a massive black mass on the screen, he gave it a posh name, stomal something. I loudly repeated the words to my Mum and Dad.

I asked, what was the prognosis. The consultant said, weeks, maybe months.

Mum said 'What did he say?'
I shouted 'Weeks, maybe months, Mum'.
'How long?' said Dad
Again, still shouting 'Weeks Dad, maybe months, it's not treatable'.

I shouted this news.
The worst news.

And I think of my bright intelligent Mum, at hospital and then at home, unable to read, unable to see, deaf, in a muffled box alone with her thoughts.

And I sobbed.

After, Dad and I left Mum in hospital that day. I am driving Dad home, he says,

'Well, that's good news, isn't it'.

I don't know what he thought he had heard, but I had to shout the news to Dad again.

Mum died 4 months ago, and my day to day is normal, the same, but now when I wonder, what would Mum  think or do, like I do about so many things, I realise I will never know.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Being Thankful

After my tirade about my illness in my last post, I have found out it is CML awareness day this Saturday.

I always said that my illness wouldn't define me and blah blah blah (I am beginning to bore myself).

But I have come to realise it is a part of me and I need to accept it.

So I am trying to do this and it helps me to be thankful that I am still here, in fact to be thankful, generally.

I am thankful, everyday that I live in this day and age, where the advances we have made in science has kept me alive, long enough to see my youngest daughters first stage performance with a paying audience (and I suspect not her last)

I am thankful that I have been to a music festival with all my family, and that the first one my kids went to was with me and hubs.

I am proud that my girls asked to go to self defense classes without any prompting from us.

I am thankful I was there for my eldest's holy communion.

And that my Mum (on the right) and my Mother-in-Law were there to see it.

I am thankful for my friends and family and my hubs who keeps me sane (well as much as he can) and so much more. 

So from now on, no more whingeing, because what good will that do. Instead, please go here and sign the petition and raise awareness, so we get more funding and donations for blood cancers. 

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Now we are six

Today my baby is 6 (and not a baby anymore...)

To help us celebrate I have a guest blogger.

The words today are by AA Milne
The photo's are by me.

When I was one,
I had just begun.

When I was two,
I was nearly new.

When I was three,
I was hardly me.

When I was four,
I was not much more.

When I was five,
I was just alive.

But now I am six,
I'm as clever as clever.

So I think I'll be six
now and forever.


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

2 Years on...

Warning - this post is not for the squeamish.

It's two years since I was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML), and I am still here.

Today I went for my yearly bone marrow biopsy, last year I had a panic attack just before they sedated me. This year they put the needle in quite a few times but I didn't have a panic attack, which was. er.. nice...

But today didn't go well. They couldn't get the needle where they wanted (despite trying repeatedly) so couldn't aspirate (not entirely sure what that means). So now, instead of going into the back of my hip, they are going to arrange another appointment with another doctor to try to do the bone marrow biopsy from my sternum. OMG. Seriously. OMG. The doctor's words when she told me this were 'you're not going to like this'.

Bone marrow biopsies are not nice. The doctors will numb the area where they put the needle in and then they put in one of these needles (below). I am not entirely sure which they use and how, but my husband says that one of the needles has a mini saw at the end and they put their full body weight on it to get through the bone.

The other thing I know is that the anesthetic and the sedative do not stop the pain when they get to the marrow. The advantage of the hip biopsy is that you can't see it. In my sternum, it will be right in front of me...holy s**t!

Today is my yearly reminder that I have this disease. Most of the time I forget about it and carry on. 

After two years, my family, friends and colleagues have stopped doing the head tilt and saying 'but are you', I'm still here, I am well. I think they are starting to believe me. 

I take my 4 little pills every day, have my blood tested every 3 months and try to ignore the side effects, the breathlessness, the fatigue, the sweats, the pins and needles in my hands and the muscle aches. I largely have a normal life.

My eldest daughter thinks I am lazy, because she only see's me in the mornings when I get her ready for school, or after work when I am exhausted or at the weekends when I am getting my energy together for the week to come.

I can't get travel insurance which covers my disease, not even if I pay more. If I wanted to change jobs (which I don't) would anyone else employ me?

Today my husband and I are reminded that I am ill, that I need tests and procedures regularly. Yes, I'm lucky, lucky it isn't another type of cancer where I need the type of chemo where I throw up and my hair falls out. Yes, I'm lucky that they can probably keep my cancer at bay for many many years (with the tablets I take they can give me 13 years as that is as long as they have been around for, but the results are good). I'm lucky I don't have to have lumps cut out of me. I am lucky because 2 years on, I am still here. Ten years ago, there is a very reasonable chance I would be dead by now. 

But I am unlucky, CML most commonly happens to people over 60 (I found out when I was 42), it is more common in men. I have cancer. I would rather be healthy. I would like to feel confident that I will be around for my girls and my hubs in the years to come. 

Today, I am sore and uncomfortable and feel about a hundred years old. Tomorrow, I will wake up feeling like I have partied all night, with out the joy of having done anything.

I initially blogged about this here and I am a little disappointed in myself for the above as that initial post was way more upbeat. Then here when the reality of my disease was kicking in. 

Anyway, had a bit of a crap day, so apologies for the pity fest. 

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Emotion - The Gallery

This is one of the first pictures of my two daughters together for the first time. This was nearly 6 years ago 
now, and was a place I wasn't sure I would ever get to.

I had Heather and then I had an ectopic pregnancy two years later, then two miscarriages.  Lola was my last chance. Both my husband and I had made the decision that if the Lola pregnancy wasn't successful then that would be it, we were perfectly happy as a three, a four would be a bonus.

When Lola was born healthy at 6 pounds 2 ounces, we were all ecstatic, and we were so happy our daughter had a sister. That joy continues, as they grow and develop together. They are totally different, totally gorgeous and make me get up every day (literally!).

I think in this picture, mostly what you are seeing is curiosity, with a little bit of love thrown in.

What I feel, when I look at this, is love, joy, happiness, and the feeling of satisfaction you get when you have had a long and challenging journey.

For more like this go to The Gallery, here

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Part of the Process

Today I packed up my Mum's clothes and divided them up, some for charity, some for my sister-in-law (she is closer to my Mum's size) some for the local amateur dramatics people, as some of it is pretty retro and they will probably appreciate it, and some for me and my girls.

You can't help but contemplate your own life and wonder does it just come down to a load of black bin bags.

Mum's on the right

Of course, there were oodles of memories; the outfit Mum wore to my wedding, the one she wore to the christenings of my children. Her gardening clothes, her old polka dot pink pajama's which I remember her wearing when I was a child. (These were so worn out I had to throw them away).

And then there were all the other clothes that must have been pre-me. The rather lovely nightie that I can't help wondering if it was the one she had for her wedding night. (I was too shy to ask Dad, and he's a man AND it was 56 years ago, so I doubt he would remember...and there may follow one of his 'stories' if I did ask...shudder)

There were loads of new packs of stockings. I never remember her wearing stockings! And black slips...again, I never remember her wearing a black slip, they are quite sexy... Hmmm my Mum as a sexy thing (again...shudder) and swiftly moving on....There are things we just shouldn't know!

We have the internet, our children will read our Facebook statuses and our tweets, our blogs. They will know more than they want to know about us. My parents came from a generation where it was polite to be private, where you didn't talk about 'things'.

And if unpleasant things happened they were nicely repressed and tucked away.

I have no doubt there was more to Mum than I knew, or will ever know. I know Mum and Dad had problems when they tried to have kids, but I don't really know what they were.

I remember my Dad saying when his Mum died, as he was sorting through her stuff, that he had realised he didn't know her at all. (There followed a tortuous few months of over-sharing from Dad, which my 18 year old self really didn't appreciate).

But, although today was hard and there is still the spare room with the other wardrobe to go through, mostly, it just helped me remember Mum. Her smells, the things I wasn't allowed to play with as a child (her kid leather, over the elbow, opera gloves ), her practicality, her inability to throw anything away (seriously ANYTHING...again...shudder - the bin is also full). I suppose it is just part of the process but weirdly, I feel better for having done it.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


This is the last picture I took of my Mum. One of my daughters were asking what skeleton leaves looked like. So, she went up the garden and found one to show her.

I took this on the 29th January this year. She was in hospital early February. She passed away on the 19th May.

I haven't blogged for ages, but when I saw the post for the Gallery this week. It felt like the right thing to do.

Monday, 19 March 2012


I haven't blogged much lately, to begin with it was just life, busy, work, the usual, then life got a bit crap.

Mum & Dad at their Golden Wedding Anniversary Party

In late October, my Dad had a massive heart attack. He was rushed to hospital and they managed to (just in time) fix him, he then started the long road to recovery. He following his rehab to the letter. Then, just when he was looking a bit better and could do 'light work', my Mum got sick. My Mum took herself to the doctor.

She never does that.

Not without several months of cajoling at the very least.

He arranged for her to have some tests. Then they waited, and waited, and Mum got sicker and sicker....but her GP persisted and pushed and finally got her admitted to hospital.

She's still there, still can't eat, but is having surgery this week to help her, then they are going to look at the route of the problem. I am not going to go into detail, as my Mum is really quite a private person who wouldn't want everyone knowing her business on the internet.

Although, it seems that half the village she has lived in for the last 50 odd years has come to visit her...and when my brother or I can't take my Dad to the hospital, someone is always there to help.

When my Dad got sick I felt prepared, resilient. I could cope. Dad has done a good job of preparing us for this eventuality.

I am extremely lucky, I am in my forties and both my parents are still alive, my children, who I had in my mid to late thirties will remember them. Which makes me very happy.

My Mum though, is really sick, I am not sure if she will make it through this. She is tough, a fighter, inspirational. This was not supposed to happen. My Mum is supposed to live to be 120 at least! Mostly out of sheer bloody mindedness. And anyone who knows her would agree.

So this has rocked me to the core. I visited her yesterday, and she was so sad and miserable. With tubes in her arms, in her nose. Her vision isn't great, so she can't read. Her days aren't broken up with meals. She is just sitting in a hospital bed with tubes in her.

She is of the stiff upper lip generation, she lived through and remembers the World War II. She makes do and mends. Only this time she isn't mending.

We took a radio and headset in so she could listen to radio 4 like she does at home, but they are moving her to another hospital for surgery, so she made us take it away yesterday as she was worried it would get lost.

I can't help but think of my normally super active Mum, sitting there with nothing to do. Still not 100% sure of what's wrong with her (but we are all expecting the worse). It's been 2 weeks, today, since she went into hospital.

It wasn't a happy Mothers Day for my Mum. I couldn't even take her flowers because the hospital don't allow it.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Silentish Sunday

Are my eyes the same colour as yours Daddy?

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Silentish Sunday

Went to a friends last night, discovered she had the smallest grater in the world. The wine is there for perspective. 

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Embarrassing Outfits

For the Gallery this week the creative Ms Cain gave us the somewhat scary title of Embarrassing Outfits. I have had a look through the plethora of photo's (I am currently entrenched in Project Scan) so I have seen some pretty gruesome sights.

The combo of outfits + hairstyles, I think, are what makes a truly embarrassing outfit.

I am on the right.

Haircut: Thanks to a friend (not the one in the picture) whose only hairdressing qualification was sweeping up hair in the local hairdressers.
Outfit: This was at a time in my life when no one had told me, I really didn't have the legs for shorts.
Excuse: It was 1984?

I am on the right.

Haircut: And styling, my Mum...thanks Mum.
Outfit: Various hand me downs, knitted by various Aunty's. This is a standard outfit, it was imperative I wore several layers of wool, making me appear..em most photos of me as a child.
Excuse: I actually have two for this one; 1. I didn't dress myself  2. My Mum is many great things, fashion forward, sadly, is not one of them.

Haircut: Long, usually with a badly cut fringe and cow licks making fringe jump up. Here, worn with a black hair band that matches practically nothing else in the outfit,
Outfit: I am going to leave the baggy jumper, as I am still a fan of baggy woolen cardies and jumpers (see above for underlying reasons for this). The leggings though, I have no excuse, I am ashamed...and at the time I loved them so.
Excuse: I was going on holiday, dressing for comfort, what you wear on holiday doesn't count...

Now go and check out some more crushingly embarrassing outfits over at Sticky Fingers (link at the top of this post)


Saturday, 11 February 2012

I've Lost My Muse

I haven't blogged for a while, I haven't done much photography, I haven't made anything, created anything in fact, I have been a bit uninspired.

There could be a number of reasons for this; Work is ridiculously busy so I am pretty exhausted when I get home. Money is tight so we go less places and do less at the moment (stupid recession!).

To be honest, keeping the house clean, going to work, making sure the kids get to school and attend everything they need to is pushing me to my limits right now. Hubs is fab and doing is share, it's just I haven't got anything left.

I have been doing Operation Scan, trying to get all my old photo's on to the computer. Quite a long and laborious task, although there have been some great finds. This, for example, my interpretation of Valentine (appropriate) for a fancy dress party I had.

Or this picture of my my Dad at school with his boxing team (approx 1943ish).

So, blogesphere, I need to get my groove back. I suppose, writing this is a step in the right direction. I just need to do it more. Any suggestions folks?

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Old Friends

Every new year, people tend to re-evaluate and think about their lives.

If you are like me, you think about whats important; friends, family and good health.

This new years day we joined Tara and her family for a walk around the Lickey Hills. All of us (adults) were feeling a bit jaded and worn out after Christmas, but on this muddy walk we all slowly came back to life, chatting about Christmas, what we had done, who we had seen, how good it had been. It cleared out the fog of eating to much and not getting enough sleep.

And as we were coming to the end of our walk and we reached the 'climbing tree' (if you have kids and have been there, you will know where I mean) we saw this.

This is my eldest, Heather and Tara's eldest Dan.

Both Tara and I have mentioned them before, they have known each other since they were months old when they were at nursery together, and just get on.

So here they are, not talking (which is a rarity for both) and just quietly contemplating the view. Sitting together and taking it all in. Lovely - It will be ten years this year that they have known each other. Old friends.

Meanwhile at the climbing tree....

Happy New Year !!!

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