Tag Archives: 100HappyDays

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

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!

 

 

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!).

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!