Category Archives: Me & Mine

Gingerbread Ninjas

Watching Bake Off I thought I would share mine and Dylan’s baking spectacular earlier this week. Plus in the spirit of my last post, it’s good if I attempt not to make you all cry at everything I write!

baking 1 Seeing as the sun failed to make an appearance on Bank Holiday Monday, I attempted to keep Dylan entertained with some activity in the kitchen. Please don’t get any illusions that we do this on a regular basis – I wish we did, but I a) don’t have the patience b) am supposedly still trying to lose my baby weight (not doing well on that front at the moment) and c) the washing up it creates is IMMENSE!

Discovering syrup!

Discovering syrup!

But I put all that aside and we baked a mountain of gingerbread. Although I love cooking, I don’t bake quite as much and it was the first time I have attempted gingerbread. I turned to my faithful source – the BBC website – which usually never fails and found a simple enough recipe. A quick walk to the shop for some missing ingredients and we were good to go.

 

baking 3

I was sure I had a gingerbread man cutter, but after sorting through my baking cupboard, I found a huge selection of different shapes, but no traditional ‘man’ shape. I did however find 3 different shaped ninjas! A Christmas present from a friend based on my nickname. Gingerbread Ninjas it was then. Dylan called them the jumping man and the running man!I hope you enjoy all the fab photos I took of my wee man. He was a brilliant helper. Sometimes he can get a bit bored and wanders off half way through an activity, but he stuck with this to the end. He helped with the measuring, mixing, rolling, cutting and of course the eating.

baking 4 baking 5

We have just about finished them off (with the help of daddy, some friends, grandma and grandad … and their dog!). The diet starts again next week!

The gingerbread mountain!

The gingerbread mountain!

Have you done any cooking or baking recently?

      The Freerange Family

Don’t sweat the small stuff

So the boys have just been tucked up in bed and I’m sat on the sofa with a glass of wine, toys strewn over the floor and a house full of dripping wet laundry. Anyone who knows me well will know my obsessive love of drying my washing outdoors. It has featured in both my 100 Happy Days (ok it didn’t make it to my 2015 top 10, but I would be a pretty sad lady if it did). I just don’t think you can’t beat the smell of freshly dried laundry. It honestly lifts my soul. I do have a dryer but use it as little as possible (I’m a tight Northerner). I also have a heated airer (from Lakeland) which was an amazing buy. It uses a lot less electricity than the dryer and last winter got a lot of use. But when it is summer, I can’t bear to use either. It’s outside or nothing for me.

Laundry

2015 Happy Days Laundry!

Last week I got very little washing done. I worked every day, leaving at 7-7.30 most days and either got home late or extremely knackered. I am usually extremely organised with laundry checking my weather app every night to see whether I put a load in. Last week I just couldn’t be bothered. So by Saturday the baskets were overflowing and the boys were running out of clothes. After last night’s thunderstorm, the forecast for today was sunshine, sunshine, sunshine. Whoop, whoop! Jude and I were out at 7am putting the first load out, followed by a second and a third. This was turning out to be a perfect laundry day.

Laundry 2014

2014 Happy Days Laundry!

Adam has recently starting working shifts and is often away for 27 hours at a time, including working weekends. It has its benefits though and he will definitely get more quality time with the boys than in his previous job. Plus he loves it which is a bonus. Anyway he is away all weekend, so my parents have helped out and mum offered to meet me this afternoon to take the boys swimming. It was a bit of a rush leaving the house. Jude had woken up in a grumpy mood so needed lots of attention. The garden was a mess covered in various piles of clothes along with plenty of toys. The sun was still out and I quickly reasoned that it was highly unlikely to break, so I did rush (and very poor) clean up and bundled both boys into the car.

In the pool half an hour later, I looked out the window to see a tropical downpour. Not a shower, or that fine rain, but a full on monsoon. I frantically searched my mind. I brought all the piles of dry clothes in ….. right?

WET garden

WET garden

Wrong! I got home two hours later (we stopped for food after swimming). Not only were the clothes on the line absolutely dripping (including two large towels and bath mat), but all the beautifully ‘dry’ clothes were now sodden. Oh and the sand pit cover was off so mini pools were forming, Jude’s bouncer was in puddle with its saturated cloth cover, the ‘sun’ tent had blown over and my copy of ‘The Book Thief’ which Dylan has taken a shine to taking out of the ‘Elf Library’ (my bookcase) and had earlier left on the garden table, had doubled in size.

photo 4

WET Laundry basket

For 10 seconds, I surveyed the wreckage in horror. My heart racing, my eyes watering, a scream forming in my throat. And then I remembered what I wrote in my last post, about trying not to ‘sweat the small stuff’. Should I have cleaned up before I left? Yes. Should I have brought all the washing in? Oh absolutely. Is this the end of the world? No. Has my house collapsed around me? No. And whilst I calmly ran in and out of the house, stripping the washing line, covering the sand pit and the rest, Dylan and Jude entertained each other by laughing at each other in mutual admiration.

It might seem bizarre and quite sad to write a post about laundry. And trust me I’m not always this relaxed when ‘disaster’ strikes. I think the boys being in a good mood after their swim and a hearty meal helped. But sometimes it is worth putting things into perspective and looking at the bigger picture. It made me think about when we moved house three weeks after Ewan died. We hired a van and on the last run of the day, we scraped the side of it against a post, making a bit of a mess. I can’t remember how much we were charged by the hire firm for the pleasure of a repaint. It wasn’t excessive, but also wasn’t cheap. We were both really annoyed with ourselves. But then I remember thinking what we had been through. And seriously, were we going to let this get us down? I just think back to that moment and that feeling sometimes. It doesn’t always work. But today I just smiled and tucked the incident away as a lesson learnt. Don’t blindly trust the BBC weather app and always bring clean and dry washing in, straight away.

Now my wine glass is empty. I guess I’d better fire up the dryer and airer. They’ve got a lot of work to do tonight!

 

 

11 Things About Me……

Things have been pretty manic this week with little time to be able to devote to my blog. However when I was tagged by ‘mummuddlingthrough’ (thanks for the blog love!) to complete this ’11 things about me’ challenge, I decided to ditch the boring things (work, ironing etc) and treat myself to an evening of writing once the boys were in bed (with one eye on ‘Bake Off’ of course). It took some time and deliberating to complete but finally it’s done. Phew! Here are my questions and answers (apologies for the length of some):

1) What are you best at?

Wow what a difficult first question. Us Brits aren’t good at blowing our own trumpet are we? I would probably say my organisational skills. Not quite so at work (my argument is that I have too much to do to be properly organised), but in the home situation there is definitely an element of military precision to how my day is organised.

2) If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Probably until the age of 16 I would have said my hair. I hated being ginger. Now it’s one of my defining features and a real part of my identity.

I wouldn’t pick a physical feature. I would like to lower my standards a bit (that sounds odd!). Sometimes I can be extremely hard on myself and beat myself up over the slightest mistake and in reference to point 1, if my military organisation doesn’t run quite to plan, I get quite upset. I am getting better at chilling out and not ‘sweating the small stuff’, but I still have some way to go.

 3) Where is your happy place?

Argh I can’t think of a specific place. The outdoors. In the lush, green countryside. Even better if I’m having a picnic with my boys.

4) What’s your signature dish?

Mmmm my pulled pork

I love cooking so this is difficult to choose. I would have to go with pulled pork which I have just discovered how to make. With homemade coleslaw (secret ingredient maple syrup, thanks Nigella), brioche buns (from Aldi – not homemade!) and skinny sweet and normal potato fries. Perfect when making food for a crowd.

5) How would your best friend describe you?

I’d like to think that they (I don’t have one best friend … I have 3-4 really close friends), would say that I’m always there for them if they need to talk. And that they could talk to me about anything.

However they might just say that I’m loud!

6) What song would you like played at your funeral?!

Adam and I had a long discussion about this and what constitutes a funeral song (one which is my favourite? one fitting the occasion? one that sums me and/or my life up?) I would like to choose something which would make everyone smile (thinking about the funeral of Liam Neeson’s wife in Love Actually), however I’ve gone for the version of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ recorded by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. I know it’s a bit cliché and a popular funeral song (and it isn’t like me to go with the masses), but this version is just perfectly beautiful in its simplicity. Please click the link if you haven’t heard it before. This was one of two songs we played at Ewan’s funeral. I struggle to listen to it without crying but I still love it.

7) What’s your dream job?

I do love my current day job – supporting students in a local Further Education College. We help students whether it is careers advice, support with money, problems at home, safety in or out of college, the list is endless. Some young people don’t have supportive families, so we can sometimes really make a difference. I would always like to be involved in helping others whatever job I am doing.

HOWEVER I would love to run a Bed and Breakfast. I’d quite like to get up in a morning and rustle up a hearty cooked breakfast every day. Adam sighs whenever I mention it. He says that I think that all guests would behave perfectly and that’s not the reality (he’s probably right – damn!). But it’s nice to dream.

 8) What do you hope to achieve from your blog?

Hmm hard one this. I am enjoying writing at the moment although I don’t have enough time to devote to it. By using it to write about my experience of stillbirth, I am hoping to raise awareness of it, and for people to realise that it’s ok to talk about it.

9) What’s under your bed?

Shoes! Lots of them. In plastic boxes. Both mine and Adams. Not very exciting really.

10) What one possession would you save from your burning home?

Ewan’s memory box. It has lots of keepsakes – photographs, his footprints, a lock of hair and cards we received from family and friends. One of my friends made a beautiful cross-stitch with Ewan’s name on which I keep in there. Everything in there is irreplaceable and the box itself is beautiful.

P1100237

Ewan’s memory box

11) You have an evening of ‘you time’….what do you do?

I can’t believe how boring this is going to sound. Relax and watch TV! In particular I would work my way through Sons of Anarchy on Netflicks. I’m currently on Season 3 and I’ve 4 more to go. In a nutshell it’s about a biker gang (think Hell’s Angels) set in California. I’m completely hooked on it which is odd as it can be pretty violent at times. The characters are brilliant and I can’t believe the lead Charlie Hunnam is from Newcastle and started off his acting career in Byker Grove!

Here are my 11 questions posed to:

athomewithruth.com

wonderfullyaverage.com

twinsmakefive.com

  1. When and where did you meet your partner?
  2. What would you chose for your last meal?
  3. What was the first single you bought?
  4. If you could be reincarnated as any animal, what would you be?
  5. Who is your celebrity looky-likey?
  6. What was your most memorable holiday?
  7. What is your favourite Disney film?
  8. Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter?
  9. When was the last time you cried?
  10. What household chore do you most despise?
  11. Were you a rebel at high school or a goody two shoes?

Feel free to contribute your responses to any of the questions I had to answer, or have posed!

My 100 Happy Days Greatest Hits!

Have you heard of the 100 Happy Days challenge? The premise is quite simple. Can you be happy for 100 days in a row? Participants choose a platform (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc) and then publish a photograph each day of whatever has made them happy, using the #100HappyDays hashtag. I embarked on the challenge last year from April to August and successfully completed it (apparently 71% of people who start it, don’t finish). For some crazy reason this year, on the 1st anniversary of my first happy day, I decided to start it again. The Facebook ‘Memories’ tool helped to serve as a reminder. I finished the challenge last week. Although it was tough, it was also enjoyable. It also helped me to start this blog. Because as well as posting a picture, I also like to write a small (or long) narrative. It made me realise how much I liked to write and wanted to carry it on, but maybe without the time pressures of doing it every day! Now that I have this blog and a platform to get my thoughts, musings and feelings out in public, I doubt I’ll be doing it again though. I would recommend the challenge to anyone, although perhaps pick a time of the year that isn’t particularly stressful. I started at the end of spring and carried on throughout summer, which isn’t a bad time to choose. I avoided my extremely busy period at work. I guess if I really wanted to challenge myself then in theory this would be the best time. But I wanted to give myself some chance of success. Anyway, as some of you won’t have seen the #100HappyDays on my personal Facebook page, I’ve decided to share with you my top 10, or as my husband just said, my ‘Greatest Hits’. Picked either because I particularly love the photograph, the event, or the narrative. Enjoy!

I just love this photo. My dad was completely oblivious to me taking it.

I just love this photo. My dad was completely oblivious to me taking it.

Day 4. I love seeing my parents with their grandchildren. I took this photo today of dad with Jude – he was keeping him entertained by chatting and singing whilst I had my hair cut. Precious moments.

Netball

Chosen because I just LOVE netball!

Day 14. I played netball this evening for the first time in almost a year. I can’t believe I was a little bit nervous walking onto the pitch. I absolutely loved it. We aren’t the best team by a long shot, but we certainly aren’t the worst and we played really well tonight. Being part of a team is so much more satisfying than doing something on my own like running. I used to love playing when I was at school but like most people gave it up at 16 – I’m so glad I picked it up again a few years later. I can’t wait for next week’s match now (although my aching muscles might not agree in the morning!) ** Notice I haven’t posted a photo of my very red face at the end – I do have some dignity.

I was really impressed with this photo ... although I took about 20!

I was really impressed with this photo … although I took about 20!

Day 28. A walk to the shop with Dylan in tow is never straight forward and takes twice as long than if I was on my own. There are plenty of fun things to discover on the way – including finding a tonne of dandelions. I tried (and failed) to take an artsy photo with me blowing the seeds. This was the best of a bad bunch.

Pulled pork
I am salivating even now just thinking about this meal. I was so pleased with it.

    Day 33. Oh wow, my genius in the kitchen has just gone up a notch. I’ve rolled onto the sofa and I am just revelling in my first attempt at pulled pork along with my homemade coleslaw and BBQ sauce. To quote Peppa Pig and family it was Dee-licious! Now relaxing with a beer!  

Just great memories and a brilliant weekend with my friend who I don't see a lot

Just great memories and a brilliant weekend with my friend who I don’t see a lot

Day 47. I’ve had a brilliant weekend with one of my bestest pals. Invariably we spent some of the time reminiscing about our university days, helped in part by the Happy Book. In some ways not dissimilar to the 100 Happy Days project, we spent the summer term of our first year (18years ago!) writing down reasons why were happy. Needless to say the majority of the book needs censoring as it was filled in after many nights out at the union. However it provides a huge amount of fun for everyone concerned. Everyone tagged either wrote or was featured in it in some way. Fabulous memories from a fabulous time. Made me wish I was 18 to relive it all again. Only this time with better dress sense!

Although they can be hard work, I do love our cats.

Although they can be hard work, I do love our cats.

Day 55. I didn’t have the heart to put these two out last night because of the rain, but I have to keep them in the kitchen so they don’t trample on my head at 4 in the morning. When I came down this morning they were both sat waiting for me. They looked so cute I ran back upstairs for my phone so I could take a picture. I’d like to think they were looking forward to seeing me – but I think they just wanted breakfast!

Me and Adam - 10 years and still going strong.

Me and Adam – 10 years and still going strong.

Day 57. A historic 10 years ago today, Mr C and I went on our first date. Well I say date – in truth he asked me out in the morning if I fancied a drink after work. We went to the Talbot and then into Burnley and got pretty trollied. I asked the DJ in one pub to play Meat Loaf & Cher ‘Dead Ringer for Love’, and when Adam followed me on the dancefloor, I knew I had found the man for me! It’s been an amazing 10 years and I’m happy to say that it’s mainly been ups. But when the bad times have hit we have worked hard together to get through them. I love you to pieces Mr C. Enjoy one of our first photos together.

Blog

A momentous day for me!

Day 75. Wow I am super excited about today’s post. I have been thinking about starting a blog for some time. So after a bit of work over the last week, I have finally hit the ‘publish’ button .. about 10 minutes ago, on my blog ‘An Angel and Two Rainbows’. If you are interested in having a read (and I hope you are), head on over. It will need more work over the next few weeks (it looks a bit basic at the moment) and I am getting to grips with how it all works. Hopefully I’ll be an expert soon. Enjoy!

It was just a wonderful moment when Adam made this wand

It was just a wonderful moment when Adam made this wand

Day 77. Anyone who has watched Ben and Holly might understand the significance of this post. I bought Dylan a Ben and Holly magazine and the ‘free’ gift was an elf horn (Ben’s) and fairy wand (Holly’s). Despite being flimsy and cheaply made, Dylan loved them and asked for them every day. Today he dropped the wand down one of the slats on our deck. There is no way of retrieving it. He was absolutely MORTIFIED and took himself up to his room to howl. Quick thinking Mr C grabbed a pencil, blu tac, some scissors and card and quickly rustled together a new homemade wand. Suddenly we had a happy, smiling boy again. Oh to be 3.

I loved watching Adam and Dylan 'working' together on this table

I loved watching Adam and Dylan ‘working’ together on this table

Day 85. The worker and his apprentice! Mr C enlisted Dylan’s help in building our new garden table. None of the help was actually required e.g asking him to help tighten the screws with his plastic screwdriver as Dylan is doing in the photo, but he was delighted to help his daddy (plus it kept him entertained for a good half hour!).

Who doesn’t love a freebie?!

Like a freebie? Read on!

A package came in the post for Dylan the other day. It was the arrival of our first blog freebie. Well actually it wasn’t really a blog freebie at all BUT I only got it because of my blog. If that makes sense?? When I set up my blog, I set up a Twitter account (follow me @angel2rainbows if you aren’t already!). Not really being a Tweeter in the past, I spent a bit of time getting to grips with retweeting, following (I still am, I don’t think I’ve quite got the hang of it yet!) etc. I discovered, through following another blogger, a company called Toppsta. They send out books FOR FREE to children between the ages of 0-12, on the expectation that a review will be written. The Northerner in me was, of course, delighted with anything free!

Noisy Dinosaur

The first book I saw being offered was pitched to 3 year olds. Perfect, I have one of those! About dinosaurs. Even better, he is bloody dinosaur mad!! All I had to do was favourite and retweet, which I just about managed to do. I promptly forgot all about it, until a couple of days later when I saw a congratulatory tweet telling me we had won. Whoop whoop! It was only afterwards, that I realised it would probably lead to an increase of Dylan running up and down going ‘Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’! Oh well.

Using his dinosaur to make the noises!

Using his dinosaur to make the noises!

 

Anyone can try and win, so if you do have children, make sure you either like Toppsta on Facebook or follow them on Twitter. There isn’t an expectation to write pages and pages of A4. Take a look at some of the reviews for an idea. It’s worth putting your hat in the ring! We all love a freebie.

 

 

For the record, here is the review I submitted:

For a child who is currently in the midst of a severe dinosaur obsessive disorder, ‘Noisy Dinosaurs’ is an excellent choice of book and we were lucky to be sent this book by the publisher after entering a giveaway on Toppsta.com. It is tough to pitch a dinosaur book at a 3 year old. Too much information and detail and they will be turned off because it is too difficult. Too basic, simple and not enough scary teeth and they will be turned off because it is too baby-ish. I am pleased to say that the team at Little Tiger Kids have pitched it perfectly. The front cover has a suitably scary looking T-Rex with tonnes of pointy teeth on show. Good start!

There are 5 dinosaurs in total, one for each page. There is a good balance of factual information for each dinosaur, 3-4 beautifully detailed illustrations and the best part, the Noise. Each touchpad is different in shape and texture, the variety being another plus point. They are perfect for small fingers to press and my son manages to produce a noise more often than not (as sometimes it can be difficult for kids to hit the right point on a touchpad). The noises are loud, scary and again varied. So 5 stars there!

All in all this is an excellent addition to our book collection. After just one day he had already remembered some of the words and repetitions. I can imagine it will keep my son entertained for a good 12-18 months before he is able to absorb more detail and information.

And just for the record, his favourite dinosaur is the Diplodocus, because it is the BIGGEST!

Definitely a success!

Definitely a success!

A Lasting Lullaby

Last night (or should I say the early hours of this morning), Baby Rainbow aka Jude wouldn’t settle. He’s started with a cold I think and was pretty grizzly. This is not a usual occurrence as despite not yet being 6 months, he is an excellent sleeper. Sorry! I am one of those annoying mothers who has a baby that has slept through from an early age.

Anyway I ended up bringing him downstairs, trying my best to soothe him to sleep. I paced up and down (clocking up 1500 steps on my FitBit in the process!) and after all else failed, I started singing. It’s not that I never sing, I just don’t sing to him a lot. The one song that pops into my head when I do sing to calm my rainbows is a lullaby that my grandma used to sing to me. As I started, I had the most vivid recollection of her. I always do whenever I sing or hear this lullaby, as I associate the song with her. I could picture being in her spare room, dark but with the light coming through the door. I think (but this could be my mind playing tricks) that there is a pink eiderdown and grandma is sat on the top of the bed, singing to me:

Moon stars“Go to sleep my baby,  Close those pretty eyes, God is up above you, looking at the beauty of the skies.

Great big moon is shining, Stars begin to peep, It’s time that little Rachel Smith was going to sleep. “

 

My memory is at least 30 years old, yet it is so clear it could be from last week.

It’s not the most popular lullaby I don’t think but it is simple and beautiful. I have also since heard the phrase ‘Angels up above you” and so I now sing this as it makes me think of Ewan and my grandma, together looking down on us.

2 Rainbows, dreamyIt worked a treat, well after about 50 repetitions and Jude finally dropped off. Before heading back upstairs, I just took some time to stare at his beautiful face and count my blessings.

 

 

 

A Lancashire Lass

So I’m a real Lancashire lass, born and bred. Although I spent the first years of my life near St Helens, Merseyside, I was actually born across the border in Ormskirk, Lancashire. We moved to Burnley when I was three, and aside from this, a three-year spell at Loughborough University and a 14 month round the world backpacking trip, I have always lived within a 5 miles of Burnley, the place I class as my hometown.

As a teenager, like a lot people, I didn’t think much about where I lived. I thought living in a city would be far more exciting, or by the sea even (influenced by an intense diet of The Famous Five and Mallory Towers!). An old cotton mill and coal mining town in the ‘grim’ North of England was quite boring in comparison.

On the West Coast of Australia

On the West Coast of Australia

My long-term plans did not involve living in East Lancashire. Whilst I didn’t quite look down my nose at friends who hadn’t moved away, I was superior enough to think that I would fly the nest and see the world. I left to go to university, and it was there I caught the travelling bug. On my return from backpacking, I had grand ideas of another long-term trip abroad again (I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to have that dream crushed by reality!). But also on my return, I started to look at my surroundings with different eyes. I had visited some amazing places. Blazing sunsets on the west coast of Australia.

Flores, Indonesia

Flores, Indonesia

Lush, green rice fields in Indonesia. Volcanic mountains in Hawaii. The first dewy sunrises of the day in New Zealand. Surely my hometown couldn’t compete with these? Ok not exactly, but I suddenly had an appreciation of how beautiful the Lancashire landscape was. I took notice of the rolling, vivid green fields and hills, the clean air and how the sunrises and sunsets, whilst maybe not as spectacular, could still compete with those abroad.

Anyway in the short-term, I decided I wanted to move down to London. I had quite a few friends in the capital from both university and travelling, so decided it would be the ideal place. What is it they say about the best laid plans of mice and men? My move to London never materialised. Because of a boy. Yes love (well at the time I thought it was love!) got in the way. So as I result I stayed in East Lancashire. We broke up 18 months later but by that point I was ‘stuck’. Stuck because I’d bought a house.

Now (without the bitterness of a newly ended relationship) I appreciate how lucky I was. I had my own house at the age of 25. I wasn’t sharing. It wasn’t rented. It was my own. Well, mine and the Nationwide Building Society. I had also started working in Further Education at a local college, supporting young people in their education, lives and careers, and realised I had found a job which I had a passion for. I then went onto find real love, got married and properly ‘settled down’. Things started to fall into place.

Adam and I decided we wanted a bigger home. Although our two bedroomed terrace was sufficient for the two of us and our two kittens, we knew we wanted to start a family in the not too distance future. However putting the house on the market in the middle of a recession meant that it took well over a year to find a buyer. But thankfully we did and we found our perfect home in a nearby village.

Camp Street

The Sold sign outside our terraced house

Adam and I moved in February 2011, less than 3 weeks after Ewan died. I should have been 35 weeks pregnant struggling to pack a box let alone lift one. We didn’t expect to start our new life in our new home as grieving parents. It turned out to be a positive step for us. A fresh new start. We were able to decorate (which we hadn’t initially planned on with a new baby) and I spent those early days in painting therapy! We were also able to explore our new village and surroundings. Although we were familiar with the area, we didn’t know it awfully well. We could put on our walking boots, set off from our front door and head off over the nearby fields. It was so refreshing.

Now, four years on I think we would struggle to live anywhere else. We are only a mile from the nearest motorway, yet half a mile from glorious countryside. The village is perfect for raising our rainbows. Our favourite place is the park, which I would say is 300m from our front door. It is so easy not to have to get in the car, but instead roll down our hill with the pram (pushing it back up the hill is definitely more of a challenge… but helps with losing the baby weight!). There is a river (perfect for throwing stones), playground, duck pond, picnic benches, waterfall and big open spaces. There is even a bear! Perfect for going on a Bear Hunt. I sat down last night to pick out some photographs of the park to include. It was so difficult because I have so many! Dylan would probably go every day if we let him and even though Jude has been plenty of times already, albeit asleep, we can’t wait for him to discover it for himself.

IMG_0555 IMG_2508 IMG_0133 IMG_0091 Dylan and bear Jude first park visit

If there are days when life gets hard, I look around and I am thankful for our lovely surroundings. Despite any hardships we may have, we are lucky beyond belief to live in a beautiful village, in a beautiful county, in the beautiful North of England. There is nowhere else I would rather be.

 

The start of something new – my first blog post

So this is it, my first blog post.

I imagine most people reading this first post will know me personally. And perhaps be wondering why I am starting a blog? I’ll do my best to explain.

I have always enjoyed writing in some capacity. As well as loving English at school, from the ages of about 11 to 13 I kept a diary. I wrote my innermost thoughts and feelings … ok, so actually that bit isn’t strictly true. From recollection my first diary wasn’t very in depth. I spent more time detailing what I had eaten for my lunch at school and what time I went to bed, than exploring my adolescent emotions. But that did change over time. When I discovered boys! I kept my diary hidden under my mattress. At the time I thought it was an awesome hiding place. Oh how wrong I was. With two older brothers in the house, you can imagine I wasn’t the only one who knew the contents. Anyway I gave up writing a diary. I’m not 100% why – probably because I knew it wouldn’t stay hidden for long!

Until now, the only other times I have written a diary/journal have been on my travels. When I was 20, I spent a month Inter-railing in Europe one summer with three friends. We all wrote a diary every day. A couple of years later I backpacked around the world and catalogued every day of my entire journey. Eight countries over fourteen months. It was a mammoth undertaking and at times hard work. I used to refer to it as the millstone around my neck. But now I am so glad that I took the time and effort to do it. Occasionally when I’m in a reflective mood I go up into our loft, find my battered diaries and lose myself for an hour. (I just nipped up to take this photo and got caught up in my Indonesia adventures!)

Diaries

My round-the-world travel diaries (in all their battered glory)

 

Recently I embarked on the #100HappyDays challenge (it is still ongoing!) for the second time. It has struck me how much I have enjoyed composing my post each day. I have also recently started to read a few blogs (mainly mum/parenting related!) which have fired my enthusiasm for writing and made me wonder whether I could do it too. So here I am, having a go!

Me and Jude blogging

Setting up my blog, with Jude’s ‘help’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I want to write about a variety of things. About my family – my children and my husband (if he’ll let me) and the fun things we get up to. About my life as a working mum (ok I am on maternity leave at the moment, but that won’t be forever) and my attempts at juggling work, home life, parenting and keeping fit. I want to write about the beautiful corner of the country where I live (Lancashire) as well as our jaunts out and about. Maybe I will also write about our two cats and how they are sometimes harder work than the rest of the family put together!

There is also one significant subject I want to write about. Our eldest son. Our angel. Ewan.

Ewan was born in January 2011. But we never brought him home. He was stillborn.

I want to use my blog to share our story, how it affected us and how time helped us to heal. Not entirely. Because there will also be a piece missing.

But we learnt to laugh and love again. And we were so incredibly lucky to go on and give birth to two healthy and happy boys. Our two rainbows. Dylan and Jude.

Anyway I hope you will enjoy my posts and musings over the next few days, weeks and months to come. I am looking forward to developing the look of my blog – admittedly it’s a bit basic at the moment and I’m just getting my head around using WordPress. I also have a logo/heading being designed, which I am very excited about. Hopefully it will be ready to showcase soon, but I just couldn’t wait any longer to post. Impatience is my middle name!