Category Archives: Me & Mine

Non Non: A dramatic tale of a Special Toy!

My children have never taken to dummies. Instead, they have attached themselves to special toys or comforters as they are often referred to. I wrote about Dylan’s comforter, Timmy the turtle some time ago, of their bond and the heart-in-the-mouth moments whenever Timmy went missing. Timmy is thankfully still with us, although now that Dylan is 5, he tends to stop at home thus minimising the chances of him going AWOL.

Non Non in full comfort mode

We are lucky that Jude has not one but two special toys. Teddy and Non Non. Teddy is a Kaloo bear given to him by his auntie when he was born. His cousin Nathan had the same bear when he was little so it was already well known to be a successful companion. We tried to give him a name – Dylan called him Charlie Blue. But Jude has always insisted on simplicity. Teddy. Non Non was originally called Dolly, which again was another name given by Dylan. The current Non Non is the third incarnation of similar comforters. Non Non is the sound Jude makes when he is snuggling it against his face. Again he came up with the name when he just started to point at it and say Non Non.

Non Non after a rescue from Morrisons

Thankfully Jude loves both Teddy and Non Non equally and absolutely. He is utterly devoted to both of them, so much so that he wants to hold one in each hand … all of the time. Sometimes, but not always we can get away with just one toy at bedtime. It is handy in that I can wash one, whilst keeping the other one on the go. Although having two is better than one, it is still a nerve wracking experience when one goes missing. We have visited Customer Services at our local supermarket to report either a lost Teddy or Non Non on more than one occasion. Thankfully (fingers crossed, touch wood), we have managed to keep a hold of both comforters over the past year despite Jude’s best efforts. He has a habit of chucking it on the floor and finding it funny. A couple of months ago he tried to throw Non Non off the top of Clitheroe Castle. Luckily it was such a windy day that it was blown back in his face!

Which brings me to another dramatic castle story. Before embarking on our journey back from Centre Parcs last week, we decided to stop off at Brougham Castle just a few miles down the road. As you can imagine, the boys LOVE castles. Dylan has been a fan for a while and now Jude has been bitten by the bug. It’s a 13th century ruin but with plenty of staircases to run up and down. I’m sure Adam won’t mind me saying that he isn’t the biggest fan of heights. But with children, needs must. So up we followed both boys up and round the winding staircases. I’ve no idea how high it was at the top, at least 4 or 5 floors high. Dylan and Jude loved running around, the adults less so. Needless to say Adam was happy when it was time to go back down.

  

After about 2 minutes of being on terra firma, Dylan announced he wanted to go back up to the top. Adam went up again whilst I stayed down on the ground with Jude. When they both arrived back down, we managed a few more minutes before Dylan wanted to pay another visit to the top. I offered to go this time much to Jude’s dismay. He proceeded to cry constantly whilst we were up in the tower. I remembered that I had Non Non in my bag and shouted down to Adam and suggesting I throw it down. Jude spotted it from a distance and the cries got louder, this time interspersed with shouts of ‘NON NON’. So I let go ………

View looking down … before Non Non’s fall!

I can re-play this next bit in slow motion in my head. Non Non started to float down and then unfurled and opened up, causing him to fly headlong, not into Adam’s hands, but onto a ledge of ruined wall about 10-12 feet above the ground. Adam clapped his hand over his mouth in shock, Jude’s wails increased in volume, Dylan looked at me with his eyes wide in disbelief. Non Non was stuck. We could see him. But couldn’t reach him.

Dylan and I got down the staircase as quickly as we could and surveyed the damage from ground level. There was no way we could get Non Non without help. It was just too high up. Jude was crying more and more so in damage control mode, we had to go and get Teddy. I left Adam trying to work out what the hell to do and ran back to the car with Jude whimpering on my hip. I had to walk through the entrance building. A poor bewildered employee of English Heritage listened to me blabbering on about how Non Non had ‘fallen’ and was stuck on the castle walls, and could he possibly help. Bless him, he went and got a long mop and foldaway chair and set off with a couple of visitors in tow (who had heard my tale of woe with interest) to where Adam was pacing. A pretty comical sight to be honest. I collected Teddy to Jude’s delight and kept him amused with various things in the gift shop, all the time crossing my fingers. Mr English Heritage came back with bad news. No he couldn’t get it down. We walked back to meet Adam and Dylan, strategically a few metres away from the crime scene.

Jude was calm by now and seemed to have forgotten about Non Non’s fate. Adam was still bothered and determined not to be beaten. We went for a distracting walk around the perimeter of the castle walls and Adam suddenly ‘found’ a large tree branch. Back he and Dylan went, whilst I continued to keep Jude amused. As much as I wanted to watch, I knew Jude couldn’t take it. Adam said that another visitor clocked him with the branch and asked if he was off to battle. Absolutely, he replied!

We had a lovely walk and as we came back round I saw Dylan running towards us with a big smile on his face ‘Daddy got Non Non!’.

Drama over. A wonderful reunion ensued. Cheers and rejoicing all round.

I know that one day, we won’t be so lucky. One day, Jude’s ties to Non Non and Teddy will start to relax. But we aren’t ready for that yet. Not that day.

Superdad saved the day (and the weeks/months that followed!). Non Non lives on.

A triumphant Daddy!

 

 

39 Years Young

Blurry birthday selfie!!

It’s official. Only 364 days left of my thirties! But that’s ok because life begins at 40 right?

So yesterday was my birthday. What better way to spend it than being spoiled by my wonderful husband and beautiful rainbows, whilst on holiday with the rest of my family. The day started with the boys climbing onto the bed to help me open my cards and presents. Dylan now fully understands the concepts of birthday and can break into singing birthday greetings without prompting, whereas Jude can just mumble words resembling ‘Happy Birthday Mummy’. Both are just as special and precious. To be honest, if just being cuddled up in bed was all the day had to offer, then I’d be more than happy. We tried and failed at a few selfies whilst daddy was out getting my special birthday breakfast (pastries, croissants, pain au chocolat etc mmm). Believe me, this photo was the best of a bad bunch.

We are at Centre Parcs at the moment. Me and my family unit, my older brother and his family and my mum, dad and other older brother who has flown in from America for the week. The boys are loving having their family within short trotting distance and love walking from one lodge to the next. Jude wants to be able to do all the things his older brother and cousins are doing. This includes ditching the afternoon nap because he doesn’t want to miss out on anything (not something I personally am relishing!). Dylan in particular loves playing with his cousin Emma. There is 14 months between them and being very similar personalities they get on so well together.

 

My birthday was a pretty chilled day, as most are at Centre Parcs. Activities interspersed with walking, playing, swimming and eating, all at a gentle pace. Dylan went pottery painting with his dad, grandma, auntie and cousin Emma. I took Jude on a mini high ropes adventure course.

 

One of the impromptu high points of the day had to be Jude’s hairdryer antics after we finished swimming. Move over Jedward, Judeward is here!

Once the boys were more or less asleep (they are sharing a room for the first time so you can imagine there is a fair bit of giddiness!), instead of putting on my gladrags and going out or kicking off my shoes and relaxing with a glass of wine, I pulled on my trainers and went for a run. Boy how times have changed!! I got some new running gear off Adam for my birthday and like a child wanting to play with a new toy, I couldn’t wait to try it out.

Light when I went out, dark when I returned!

 

I set out wanting to do my longest run of the year so far. Although I’ve run four 10k races, my longest race of the year in May is a half marathon, so my mileage needs to increase. I set out wanting to run at least 7 ½ miles but returned having managed 8.  I ran round and round the grounds, meeting countless birds, rabbits and even startling a deer.

 

I returned triumphant and treated myself to a small glass of wine and a hot bath. I then realised that wine wasn’t the best way to hydrate so followed it with a more appropriate glass of water. Call me weird (it’s fine, I understand), but there was definitely something exciting and empowering about running on my birthday. As I was out, I was pondering and thinking about all my past birthdays, or as many as I can remember. If I have the energy when I get home, I’ll dig out some photos to share of my birthday antics over the years.

 Knowing I completed a birthday first last night, something I wouldn’t have contemplated 5, 10 or 20 years ago, is in some ways an achievement. And after the cake and wine has settled, I am still buzzing!

 

 

Our Baby Rainbow

Cheeeeeeeeese!

On Monday we celebrated another rainbow birthday. This time it was Jude – 2 years old! I know it sounds cliche but where has the time gone? I can’t help calling him my baby, but soon he will start to understand what I mean .. and get seriously cheesed off!

I’ve previously written about my first rainbow pregnancy with Dylan and the (mainly emotional) difficulties we faced. With Jude it felt a lot different. I knew that my body was now capable of carrying a baby full term. I was a lot more confident. I felt like I could be a ‘normal’ expectant mother talking about ‘when’ the baby would come rather than ‘if’ or ‘hopefully’. I had another enviable pregnancy in that I had very little, if any morning sickness. My mum couldn’t believe how lucky I had been in that respect over three pregnancies. But boy was I tired. I didn’t remember being this tired before. Especially in the early weeks I just felt exhausted. I even remember lying down at work one day. I guess the big difference was having a two year old to run around after. Whereas before I could come home from work and just lie on the sofa, relax and maybe have a sneaky snooze, that was just a distant memory. Given we were potty training too in the early weeks, it felt particularly hard. But one thing I couldn’t do was complain.

Again I felt so incredibly lucky. As with Dylan’s pregnancy, we were under the care of the same consultant, the lovely Mrs Martindale. She was fully aware of our history so we didn’t have to explain a thing. By now, we also knew some of the midwives and sonographers. We followed the same plan as with Dylan. Regular appointments and scans every 4 weeks and then to be induced at 38 weeks, if nothing happened before. This was so handy with planning when to finish work as I had a pretty good idea of when the baby would come.


Unfortunately I didn’t learn any lessons from Dylan’s pregnancy. I have very few photos of me pregnant, less than with Dylan. It is one regret that I have. This is one of the only photos I have, taken the night before I went into be induced.

 

 

 

I was due to go into hospital on the 4th February in the afternoon. Jude arrived less than 48 hours later on the morning of the 6th. Although it might seem like a long time, for the most of it I was sat on the antenatal ward waiting for things (my cervix) to get moving!! Knowing that it would probably be a couple of days given my experience with Dylan, I took about 4 novels in with me … and read them all. It was absolute bliss! I was determined to make the most of the peace and quiet (I was in a single room!) whilst I could.

On one of the nights, I received a visit from one of the midwives on the Delivery ward. It was Paula, the midwife who delivered Ewan. She’d seen my name up on the board and recognised it. I know it sounds corny, but Paula is one of those people I will probably only see a few times in my life, yet I have such a strong bond with her that is hard to explain. She was there almost every step of Ewan’s delivery and for the hours afterwards. She shared such an important chapter in our lives that is usually only reserved for close family and friends, not someone you barely know. I will forever be grateful that she was with us and it was so wonderful to see her when I was waiting for our third baby to come.

So how would I describe Jude’s entrance into the world? One word. Quick! That might sound a bit bizarre when it took nearly 2 days from being induced, but when labour actually started, boy did I know about it. I had an epidural with Ewan, but didn’t have anything with Dylan. I didn’t consciously plan a pain-relief free birth but it just happened that way. With Jude I was determined to have as many drugs as I could get. But it wasn’t to be. It felt like I went from 0-60 in 10 seconds. At the point I asked for an epidural, I got the same response again, ‘too late, baby is on its way!’

Thankfully I got another heavenly midwife, Jayne. She came on shift at 8am, took control and sorted me out straight away. She got me on gas and air (which I’d never got the hang of before) and then suggested a water birth. I was completely stunned. I had no idea that I could have one because the baby was to be monitored throughout. ‘Of course’ she said, ‘we’ll get the tub filled up’. Talk about distracting me and diverting my attention.

It’s funny how the different senses invoke particular memories. It was a beautiful sunny morning on Monday. As I got out of the car with Jude, the sun hit my face and warmed me instantly. I was transported back to the birthing pool. As I settled in the water, the sun was coming up and streaming through the water. The design of the room couldn’t have been any better. I lay there with my eyes closed and on the sun on my face. It had a enormous calming effect.

I won’t bore you with any further details other than to say within 10 minutes of getting into the pool, Jude made his entrance into the world. Our second rainbow was in our arms. Dylan came to see him a couple of hours later. He was a bit bemused and couldn’t really work out what all the fuss was about, especially when Jude cried! He eventually came round a few days later. The photo below is one of the first I took of them together. It’s a bit blurry but you can see Dylan showing him one of his dinosaurs!

 

I don’t ever want to take my rainbows for granted. They are the delights that came into our lives and mended our broken hearts. Every day is a blessing, but on special days, like birthdays, I count them even more.

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A Different Baby Shower

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For obvious reasons, baby showers make me feel a bit uncomfortable. In fact, until a couple of days ago, I’d never actually been to one. Baby showers were just starting to become popular around the time that I was pregnant with Ewan. In the background, in secret, my friends had just started to organise one and were looking at possible dates. It never progressed beyond the planning stage, for obvious reasons.

When I fell pregnant with Dylan, I was pretty vocal in saying that I didn’t want a baby shower. It was a difficult time and I didn’t enjoy the pregnancy as I should have. It was almost as if I thought having a shower would jinx things. And also it didn’t feel fair that this baby would have a shower when Ewan didn’t. To be honest I felt out of sorts quite a lot over that 9 months and I don’t think it was an unusual reaction. By the time Jude came along, I think the shower ship had just sailed!

Funnily enough none of my close friends have had showers either. Unless they did and just didn’t invite me!! Up until a couple of years ago I probably wouldn’t have gone anyway. Maybe I still wouldn’t now.

img_2194 But the shower I went to this week was of a different nature. It was an adoptive baby shower. One of my bestest friends and her husband have been approved to adopt and will be bringing home their son in just over a week. All the papers have been signed, sealed and delivered. Matching panels complete, it is official as it can be. And pretty much everyone who knows them is absolutely bursting at the seams with excitement. With this in mind this was definitely one shower I wasn’t going to miss.

My friend and her husband have been on roller coaster ride for the past 6-7 years if not longer. I’m sure any couple who have struggled to have children will be able to identify. I sometimes think about how simply we view life when we are young. A mantra of growing up, settling down, getting a husband and having children is pretty much drummed into us all, with no concept of how difficult it might be. Or no idea words like miscarriage, stillbirth and infertility might become part of our everyday vocabulary. That we may not find the right partner … Or want to have kids at all.

I digress. Last night was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate my friend’s eventual and well deserved opportunity to create a family. Having met their little boy for the first time last week, they are now gearing up to spend a week or so getting to know him and his routines, his likes and dislikes. It will be amazing, tiring and emotional. And that is even before they bring him home permanently.

I hope having read this, whether you know them or not, you’ll join with me in wishing them all the love and happiness in the world. Raise your glass to new beginnings.

And finally I want to leave you with this photograph which I just thought was one of the loveliest things I have seen in a long time. Finally they have found their missing piece!

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..And a Happy New Year

Fireworks

So another New Year passes. How did you spend yours? We celebrated in the same way as we have for the past six years. A night in watching a film/boxset (last night we caught up with the latest season of the Walking Dead), our favourite food/takeaway (left over buffet dips, cheese and biscuits and smoked salmon!) and generally rarely making it to midnight. We lasted until about 10.30 pm and then crawled up to bed!

It hasn’t always been so. Whilst some people are very ‘anti-New Years’, I’ve always been one to celebrate, ideally somewhere different or exciting. But always with friends and of course, for the last ten years, Adam. It probably stems from the fact that from turning 18 I worked in a pub on New Years Eve for about four years. Ok it was generally lots of fun (with great tips!), but it wasn’t the same as kicking my heels up and being on a dancefloor at midnight with friends singing Auld Lang Syne.

There has been a fair share of  celebrating in nightclubs and pubs across the country. One favourite New Years was at a friend’s house party in Watford. It was particularly memorable because at midnight, after the obligatory singing, we stayed in our huddle and started decided to shout out all the things that had made us happy or we were proud of in the previous year. The fact it lasted a long time obviously showed what a contented bunch we were! I also remember spending the whole of New Years Day in our pyjamas watching Sex and the City boxsets.

I’ve been lucky enough to be abroad a few times and celebrated in memorable places.

  • The Blue Mountains near Sydney – my family came out to visit me whilst I was backpacking. We rented a cottage in the middle of nowhere, played games and set off our own fireworks.
  • Christchurch, New Zealand where my in-laws live. We had a few drinks during the day and then watched the fireworks from their house overlooking the city at midnight.
  • Cologne, Germany – a truly amazing New Year experience spent with friends, ranking up there with one of the best. We had a tip off that NY in Germany would be spectacular, and it didn’t disappoint. We witnessed a truly ‘dis’organised firework display, spontaneously created by the locals. It was the stuff of nightmares for British Health and Safety staff, but we loved it.
  • Arusha, Tanzania at the start of our honeymoon. We actually went to bed early that NYE because we had to be up at the crack of dawn to go on safari the following day. I still remember hearing the fireworks.

Cologne 068 Cologne 018Celebrating in Cologne

It could be argued that our most memorable was the year we got to celebrate midnight twice! We’d spent another Christmas with Adam’s parents in New Zealand and set off travelling back to the UK on New Years Eve. Our flight left Auckland at 11pm. Once we were in the air, the cabin crew handed out glasses of bubbly and toasted the New Zealand midnight. After a 12+ hour flight we landed in Los Angeles just after midday on the 31st having crossed the International Date Line (thus going back in time). When we boarded our connecting a couple of hours later, out came the glasses again and this time we toasted the UK New Year. Two for the price of one!

So even though I’ve enjoyed sharing my trip down New Year Memory Lane, I am still more than happy to spend the evening of the 31st, as I did last night. Some may say it is boring and uneventful.

I know that one day the boys will stop up and celebrate with us. We might take them out to stop with family or friends. You never know, we might even take them to experience a New Year abroad.

But for now, I am happy and satisfied cuddled up on the sofa in my PJ’s, with my other half and two sleeping rainbows upstairs. Forever grateful and thankful for what I have.

Happy New Year to you all.

 

 

Forward, back, forward, back?

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Tonight I aimed to put the boys to bed an hour later than their normal time. In reality it was actually about 20-25 minutes. But the intent was there. Just before Jude went down, Dylan accidentally FaceTimed my brother. He was surprised they were both still up (as I’m usually a bedtime Nazi) so I reasoned it was so they would hopefully wake up later in the morning. ‘Now that never works’ was his amused response.

I remember our first clock change after having Dylan. We’d just about started to establish a good bedtime routine and I was petrified of losing it. I Googled how to deal with Daylight Savings with children (I Googled most child-related questions back then …. wait, I still do). I can’t recall which site I picked it up from, but the advice I followed involved starting the week before (serious planning required then!). It recommended moving bedtime by 10 minutes every night so that it wouldn’t come as a huge shock to change it by an hour the night before. I followed the advice diligently. D you know what? I actually can’t even remember if it worked or not.

Fast forward to earlier this year when Jude had arrived. With two, I wanted to be as prepared as possible. I spent all week moving their bedtime 10 minutes later each day. Then on the Saturday night as I was quietly sat giving Jude his last feed an hour later than normal, it suddenly dawned on me. I had moved the bedtimes the wrong way! The clocks were going forward not back. I tried to blame sleep deprivation, but in reality I was just being ultra dim!! The following day felt super short indeed.

So tonight I just tried to keep them both awake as long as humanly possible. After a long session at soft play this afternoon, Jude had a later than normal nap and even Dylan managed to sneak in a little kip on the car journey home. So it wasn’t quite as hard as anticipated.

And tomorrow? Well if they do get up earlier, I guess it just means extra opportunities for smiles, kisses and cuddles from my beautiful Rainbows!

P.s The photo at the top is our wallpaper. I’m not obsessed with time … honest!

 

Juggling Mummy – Home life, Work and Fundraising

Juggling balls used to keep things in the air

Wow it feels like such a long time since I sat down at the laptop to write. The blog I posted last week about Ewan’s birth was one I had written (in the main) some time ago and I just updated it and made tweaks. Since we returned from our holiday last month it just feels as though life has been super hectic. I am getting to grips with returning to work, adapting to Adam’s new job and shift patterns, keeping up with day to day house jobs and running around after a now mobile baby and his brother. Then on top of all that, last week I organised and held a quiz to raise money for Sands (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society) and a local charity Friends of Serenity. Don’t get me wrong. I love the crazy, mad busyness. And although some days feel hard, I thank my lucky stars that I have two happy and healthy boys to run around after.

Juggling work and being a mum

I’m not even back at work properly yet. Having gone back to work full-time after having Dylan, I was so pleased that I could finally reduce my hours to 4 days a week this time around. Since August I’ve been doing a couple of days a week, mainly because it is our busiest time. From this week I am working 3 days. So I’m having it easy really. I’ve slowly been getting better and better at getting the boys up and ready and dressed and into work on time. Ok I’ve not quite nailed it, but I’ve definitely improved compared to a month ago!

Adam started a new job in July which means he is away for 27 hours at a time, 2-3 times a week. Although it seems a long time to be away, we’ve quickly got used to it. In the long run it’s definitely better as he’ll get to spend more quality time with the boys. And tonight when I came home from work, my tea was ready and on the table. Happy days!

Mobile baby

My mobile baby!

 

Jude loves to explore, and now he is mobile, it’s going to get harder to keep him occupied in the morning (without worrying he isn’t tearing the place apart!). At the moment he is quite happy playing with toys on the bathroom floor whilst I’m in the shower, but I bet that won’t last for long! Adam put the stairgates up today so at least I won’t worry about him toppling down them.

 

I’ve learnt not to put the telly on for Dylan. At first I thought it would help and keep him quiet. But actually all it does is distract him and make him more reluctant to get dressed/have breakfast/brush teeth. So I don’t mention the ‘O’ word (Octonauts) and he seems quite happy to potter around and play with whatever toys are lying about.

Fundraising and quizzing

I feel like one of the things that this blog has done is to reinvigorate my passion for fundraising for Sands. In the two years after Ewan died, we set up a Justgiving Page, organised two quizzes and ran a 10k race raising nearly £8,000. Recently we haven’t done a lot and by writing about stillbirth awareness I am back in ‘that place’ where I want to get involved and help again. At the beginning of the month I went to the Sands AGM and conference, which I am hoping to write about (when I have the time!). Hearing about all the research that is needed to help reduce the stillbirth rate has really spurred me on.

So last Thursday night, which happened to coincide with Baby Loss Awareness day (15th October), 45 of my family and friends gathered together for a night of me on the mic asking questions about anything from Shakespeare quotes to celebrity couples. Typically I was up until about 12 on Wednesday night still writing the questions. Disorganised as usual! The venue for the quiz was at my local college (which also happens to be where I work!). Because we teach Catering, there is a restaurant for the public to dine so that students can practice cooking and front of house skills. The students made huge vats of meat and veggie chilli for us and kept everyone well fed.

RaffleIt was a great night. Although I was hoping for more people (Thursday nights aren’t the best I discovered for other people to get babysitters), we raised almost £600 from the ticket price and raffle. A friend of mine donated a huge chocolate bouquet which definitely led to more raffle tickets being sold. However what really boosted the total was the fact that college only charged me cost price for the food. This added £125 to the total. I was delighted. I think it helped that my friends made good use of the bar!

Wave of Light

I even managed to light my candle at 7pm before the quiz started as part of the international Wave of Light and kept it on all night.

 

Life isn’t going to calm down any time soon. Especially now I’ve got to start fitting in all the training to get ready for the Great North Run. Seeing as I published it here a few weeks ago, there’s no going back! But I can’t complain. It’s all for a great cause. I’m just learning to embrace the chaos and go with the flow!

Mummuddlingthrough

#MySundayPhoto – Summer in Scotland

So here we are on holiday. Packing our bags for Scotland in September was challenging. 4 seasons springs to mind! We’ve been here a full day and to be fair the weather hasn’t been too bad. It was sunny when we arrived and only rained a little bit this afternoon. It just so happened to be when I took this photo!

I love it though. We were sat on a wooden boat, overlooking the sea and taking a make believe journey to a pirates cove. Just Dylan and me huddled up together (oh and two plastic sharks, Timmy the turtle and his new Pterodactyl!). Who needs sun?

Summer in Scotland

OneDad3Girls

Much more than a turtle. The story of a special toy!

Timmy at the Washington Monument

Does your child have a special comforter? A toy, dummy, blanket? You know, the thing they take EVERYWHERE. To the shops, to nursery, to the park, to bed. They drag (sometimes literally) wherever they go. It is the thing they need to get them to sleep. They turn to it when they are tired. It comforts them when they fall, or are upset. It gets their unconditional love. They are priceless, for all the reasons I have just mentioned. But they are also the millstone around the neck of every parent. More so when it is a specific toy or blanket that the child has taken a shine to. One that is now worn and faded. Falling apart from endless stroking, suckling and general wear and tear. For each parent lives in constant fear that the comforter will one day get lost.

When I was little I had a yellow blanket. It had been handmade by my great auntie Margaret. I used drag mine around, sleep with it. Or and I used to suck it! My mum eventually had to cut it into four pieces so she had a rotation of spare, clean blankets instead of one, manky smelling rag. Eventually they disintegrated when I was about six or seven.

Dylan, our eldest rainbow, has one. Timmy the Turtle. Timmy is well known around these parts. He is a regular companion when we go out and about and tends to make an appearance in most photographs. Dylan took a shine to Timmy when he was about 15 months old and despite now being 3 and a half, Dylan shows no sign of cutting ties with him.

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Timmy got lost last summer. On my watch too! I went to pick Dylan up from nursery. I remember collecting Timmy from the nursery staff (he was kept in a special cupboard with all the other special toys). At bedtime, Adam popped his head out of Dylan’s door and shouted down for Timmy. Usually a common occurrence. My brain started racing, scanning for the last memory of Timmy. I couldn’t remember seeing him since nursery. I frantically searched the house, the car…. nothing! I ran upstairs and Adam could tell by the wild panic in my eyes that Timmy was nowhere. I can’t remember the tale he spun Dylan, I think it was something along the lines of Timmy having a bath. Whatever it was, it worked for the time being and he managed to get Dylan to sleep with some extra soothing. I ducked out of the house, and drove back to nursery and then to the supermarket where we had stopped off on the way home. Again I drew a blank. In desperation I sent a message on Facebook to the nursery owner. Could she have a look when they opened up first thing in the morning and let us know if we had dropped him in the playground or if he had been handed in? Bless her she actually drove down to nursery that night to see if she could find anything. Still nothing!

We never found the original Timmy. Adam had initially bought him (of course he is a ‘he’ and not an ‘it’) from Alton Towers so it wasn’t a quick jaunt back to the shop. Luckily he found a replacement though the power of the Internet. We paid extra for next day delivery (money was absolutely no object) and we managed to spin lie upon lie to keep Dylan from uncovering the truth. There were a couple of hairy (and upset) times, in the interim, but brand new New Timmy arrived soon enough, all spick and span. Dylan looked slightly suspicious. We made a big song and dance about how clean he looked after his long bath and just about managed to get away with it. I think Dylan was so happy to have him back, he didn’t care.

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Fast forward to yesterday. I took the boys to the park and of course Timmy came with us. Dylan was giving Timmy his usual tough love. Throwing him down the slide and from the top of the climbing frame. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve said ‘poor Timmy’ over the last couple of years because of the rough treatment he gets. When we got home, Adam was back from work so I nipped out to the supermarket. The second I stepped back through the door, Dylan appeared at the top of the stairs (we live in a townhouse) and said ‘Mummy, where’s Timmy’ with just a hint of concern in his voice. My heart pumped that little bit faster. Not again, surely not! We went through the house, looking under the sofa, outside, in the bedrooms. No Timmy! I donned my trainers and ran down to the park. More frantic searching. Another call into the local supermarket where we had stopped off. No luck. Walking back, I sent Adam a text with the bad news and said I didn’t want to come home. We had just about managed to get through it last time, but it was obvious he was lost this time and we couldn’t pull the wool over his eyes again. My mouth was dry. I felt sick. Dylan didn’t see me at first, but then clocked me and looked expectantly.

I was just about to deliver the bad news, when I saw a flash of dark green in Jude’s ball pool. There he was buried under a tonne of brightly coloured balls.

I was too relieved and delighted to be cross. We dodged another bullet! Timmy was alive and kicking and we all lived to fight another day. Dylan went to bed happy … with Timmy.

I spent last night on the internet searching for microchips for toys. They don’t exist … yet. An idea for Dragon’s Den maybe?

Do you have any similar toy horror stories? It can’t just be me.

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My Life As A Mummy
Mami 2 Five

Save Syria’s Children – The Innocence of Youth, The Ugliness of War

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In May of last year in the days before blogging, I wrote the following post on my Facebook page.

#100Happy Days – Day 16. A more thoughtful post as today I am just happy to be alive, have my family with me, a place to live and live in a free, democratic society. I went to a talk today about the conflict in Syria and felt ashamed I previously haven’t engaged in what is happening. I listened to an educated Syrian woman talk about how it used to be the 3rd safest country in the world and they accepted more refugees than anywhere else. Now there are more Syrian refugees than any other nation. ONE THIRD of the nation has fled or are in refugee camps. HALF of those who have remained are in need of aid. Everytime the phone rings she expects news of the death of a relative/friend. I am not usually political but this really shocked me. So today I am just happy to walk down the street without fear of a suicide bomb or sniper shot.

Through my job I had attended a conference around concerns of extremism in young Muslim students and how they might be persuaded to go to Syria to fight. To put everything into context, they gave a potted history of the crisis in Syria and the problems they were facing in 2014. Things have clearly got much, much worse.

Last week, shocking pictures hit the front pages of all the UK daily newspapers. Some people thought it was too much to show a 3 year old boy, Aylan Kurdi, drowned on the beach. I, along with many other people, shed a tear when I saw it. Sadness for Aylan and his family (his brother and mother also drowned), but also because many people had the same thought

‘That could have been my child’

And re-reading my Facebook post from last year, it so very easily could. Can you really believe now that Syria was one of the safest countries in the world?

Whilst there has been some negativity to the photos last week, this has been overshadowed (I think) by a huge overwhelming positive public response. The blogging community, which I have very recently become a part of, quickly rallied round to show the power of social networking. A Facebook group ‘Save Syria’s Children Charity Challenge’ was set up and a poignant video made up of black & white images was produced to highlight that it very possibly could have been any of our children. The hashtag #savesyriaschildren quickly became the number one trend on Twitter over the weekend and parent bloggers wrote post after post to spread the same simple message – Save Syria’s Children.

I was away all weekend so have only now had the chance to sit down and write. I may only influence one or two people, I may annoy a few people. I don’t really care. I am sat here looking at the Save the Children website and at the top it says ‘No Child Born To Die’. And that is the motivation behind writing this. Whatever your political or religious beliefs, remember that message.

If you haven’t seen it already, please also take a look at this video produced by Save the Children.

To donate £5, text SYRIA to 70008

Or donate online via Save the Children

There is a great website called Help for Syria which gives further background to the conflict and some ideas how you can help. Also here is a really good article published yesterday by the Independent with some practical ideas. My Facebook timeline also has people posting about local charities and organisations set up to collect clothing to send to the refugee camps. Look to see if there is anything local to you.

I will leave you with a quick story that the speaker at the conference I attended last year told us. I barely kept it together then, and still get upset when I think about it now. She said that she had been talking to a friend in Syria who have overheard her children talking one day. One turned to the other and said ‘Tomorrow, if we don’t get shot, shall we go and buy some sweets’.

The innocence of youth, trapped in the ugliness of war.

My rainbows are held close, more than ever.

#SaveSyriasChildren