Tag Archives: friends

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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The Great North Run 2016 – The Story So Far

gnr-largeLast September, I made rather a bold statement. In print, here on this blog. I said that I was planning to run 13.1 miles to raise money for Sands, the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society, a charity that couldn’t be any closer to my heart. I threw down the gauntlet for friends (and strangers) to join and a few brave souls picked it up.

I thought the hardest thing would be getting going with the training. To begin with it was. I was juggling going back to work after maternity leave with all the fun and chaos of Christmas. As the New Year passed, I made an unspoken resolution to get back on it. So far I’ve been pleased with my progress. Saturday mornings have seen me up for 9am to take part in every parkrun of 2016, getting a Personal Best at my usual Burnley run and attempting the much more difficult Pendle run. I’ve managed to also to get our at least once, sometimes twice during the week too.

Wettest Parkrun of the year (so far)

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I’ve honestly felt as though I’ve had something driving me this time around. When I’ve run up one of the (many) steep hills near home, or when I was pushing for my PB, at the time I was starting to doubt my ability, I reminded myself why I was there in the first place. I’m not running to lose weight, or to get fitter (albeit valid reasons and actually ones I should adopt too!), I am running for my angel.

Sands running

My new Sands training t-shirt

So then came the bombshell. The results of the ballot were emailed out this week. I didn’t get a place. Okaaaaaaay! That wasn’t part of the plan. I’ve been successful in the ballot before. In fact I think I have got every place all three times. I stupidly didn’t think about the prospect of being unsuccessful.

I got in touch with Sands almost straight away to ask about a charity place. Due to the high profile nature of the event (it is the largest half marathon in the world!), understandably places aren’t given straight away to anyone who asks for one. There are 50,000+ participants. Most of them running for charity. I’ve sent off my application for one of their golden bond places. I’ve no idea how many places they do have, but given they are only a small charity, I am hoping for my own selfish reasons that they aren’t over subscribed.  

I have to wait until next month to find out. It’s going to be a loooong month of nibbling finger nails. I thought it might be hard getting up on Saturday to be motivated to run. But it’s starting to become habit now and hopefully if I do get that place, I won’t have lost momentum.

I don’t want to consider the possibility of not getting that place. Not yet. Mainly because I don’t really want to run for anyone else other than Sands. If there are other charity places available, I can’t see myself going for them. With a heavy heart I’ll have to lead the cheerleading for all my wonderful friends who were lucky enough to get places and will run for Sands. I just really wish I can join them. I can’t describe how gutted I will be if I can’t do this.

Keep everything crossed for me. Legs, arms, fingers and toes.

I will keep you posted.

 

..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.

 

 

Running for Ewan

gnr-largeI am making a bold statement. Now. In print.

Next year I am going to do the Great North Run.

There, I said it. I’ll have to do it now. Who’s going to join me?

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In 2005 with my buddy Ruth

I’ve run it before, but not for a long time. The first time was in 2003. I ran with a friend. We both ran to mend our respective broken hearts at the time! We chose the British Red Cross as our charity.

In 2005 I ran with another couple of friends (no broken hearts this time) for Colitis and Crohn’s UK. In 2007, I ran again with a different friend and Adam as well, although he was miles ahead of us. Instead we plodded along and talked about her impending relationship break up and new fella (it kept us going for a good 6 miles). That time we ran for Asthma UK, a condition Adam has had since he was very young.

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2007 – beaten by a Stormtrooper!

 

So it will be 9 years since last taking the journey up to Newcastle. I’ve been inspired by a friend who ran on Sunday. She had a baby in January, just a few weeks before me. I was super impressed that she managed to get fit enough in 7 months to run a half marathon (I have so far managed a 5k Parkrun!).

You might remember I wrote a post about it. She chose to run for Sands (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society) having read my blog and it made me so happy that the time I spent writing had a little bit of effect on someone.

So I’m going to run for Sands, a cause very close to my heart. Adam and I have done a lot of fundraising over the past 5 years and I want to carry it on.

I’m going to run for my angel, Ewan.

Get yourself signed up. If you go to the Great North Run website you can sign up for their reminder service so you will get an email when the ballot opens. My first aim is to get a place through the ballot. If I am unsuccessful, then hopefully I will get a place through Sands. Whatever happens, I am running.

So, does anyone out there want to join me? Join #TeamSands for #TeamEwan!

Come on, you know you want to.

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Blogging – is it worth it?

Yesterday I received a message from a friend. She is running the Great North Run in a couple of weeks and she had just set up a Justgiving page to raise money for Sands (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society). Friends and regular readers will know that this is a cause very close to my heart. I was really touched, because she told me that reading my blog had moved her to choose Sands. Claire and I don’t see each other very often, I bet it is a good 4-5 years since we last met. We have a mutual close friend who we were both bridesmaids together for and so we get updates on each other through Olivia. We also both have boys of very similar ages and obviously get to see them growing up through Facebook.

Receiving Claire’s message made me so incredibly happy. Sometimes as I am tapping away late at night on the laptop (when really I should be getting as much sleep as I can with two rainbows to run around after), I wonder how many people are reading my posts. Before getting into the blogging business, I was aware of a few parenting blogs, but I had absolutely no idea how many! There are easily hundreds, likely to be thousands. Maybe more. Some have tens of thousands of Facebook and Twitter followers. Some of them blog as a full-time job. How can I compete against that!

To date I only have 134 Twitter followers, 106 Facebook Likes and 10 people subscribed to my blog, yet lots of these wonderful people have taken time to send me some lovely messages of support. In the beginning it was only friends and family reading, but I know now there are ‘strangers’ out there. People I’ve never met. That in itself is incredibly exciting.

So I just need to remember that it’s not about competing. I didn’t start writing to be Britain’s Most Popular Blogger. I started writing for the all the reasons I put in my very first post. I am writing for me. And inspiring someone to run 13.1 miles for a cause that I have written about……. Sometimes there are no words for that.

If you want to sponsor Claire, please visit her Justgiving page. I need to give her extra kudos because she had a baby in January, just a few weeks before me. I can just about manage a 5k Parkrun on a Saturday morning. Getting fit enough to completing a half marathon is no mean feat, so my hat is definitely off to her!

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Anyone can raise money for Sands. Visit their website for ideas. Let me know if you do.

 

Oh and if you like what you read and  want to share my blog on Twitter, Facebook or wherever, please do!

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.

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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!).