Monday, 11 November 2013

What do you do for a 14 year old boys birthday????

My husband reminded me the other day that I should really blog about something really really nice that we did during half term.  How remiss of me not to have shared it with you.

I saw an amazing picture on a friends facebook page recently, she had taken her newly turned 14 year old son and his older sister to a place in Basingstoke where you can do indoor skydiving.

Now I have a confession to make - I have always wanted to skydive and do a wing walk on an aeroplane.  I can't explain why - my counsellor reckons it is probably something to do with the feeling of freedom that these activities might give me.  Anyhow, with all my health issues and with what has been going on in my family over the last 5 years, putting any desires like these out there has been impossible.

Then half term came, along with my sons 14th birthday.  He isn't a hugely social lad, he has a small good bunch of friends, but he is also very happy playing on his computer, games console, etc (like so many others it seems).  In previous years we have let him go out bowling with a couple of friends, or to the cinema and then getting a take-out - that sort of thing.  This year he didn't seem to be showing any great desire to do these things.

Can you see where this is going????????  I made the suggestion that maybe he would like to go and do the indoor skydiving thing - well that impressed him no end.  When I asked if he fancied doing it all together as a family (including his little sister) I was absolutely delighted when he said yes.

So it was booked a couple of days before and despite little sisters nerves we all looked forward to it.

And I have to say it did not disappoint any of us.

Yes it was pricey, but then we had kept presents to a minimum and this was the big treat of the holidays as well as for my sons birthday.  Would you like to see some photo's?

First we had to have our hands stamped (after completing very large risk disclaimers!).

Here is the birthday boy

He got the hang of it very quickly, the second picture shows him going off for a tandem ride up to the top of the wind tunnel with the instructor - we all got to do that once we had mastered the art of  'flying'

Next to have a turn was my hubby - it appeared to be much more difficult for us 'oldies' than the children - something to do with relaxing and being bendy I think!
Next it was my turn!  The instructor was so nice, I was a little concerned that he might grab me to harshly by the arms or legs (as it seemed he had been doing with some others we watched) which would have rattled my joints, but a quick chat and he made sure he held me just by my suit.
And lastly it was the little sisters turn, she had taken so much convincing that she would be okay doing it, reassuring her right up to the last minute that she could pull out (but we wouldn't let her pull out before doing the safety briefing and getting dressed up).  She loved it and being so light, kept flying away!

I was so exhilarated afterwards, and the photo below shows my son with a smile - not something that he easily gives away these days.

 I think his Dad rather enjoyed himself too.
So much fun and then I had the thrill of putting photo's on facebook and surprising everyone that I had done it to - I didn't realise that it would be such a surprising thing!

This week I have also hit 28,000 page views on this blog, with the number of posts that averages out to about 85 per post.  Goodness me!  Thank you for popping by!

Friday, 18 October 2013

Dear Mum.

So I should be saying Happy 67th Birthday today!  But I am not am I, you ensured you stayed 66 forever - that is an extreme way of not getting anymore grey hairs!

I cannot imagine how you thought suicide would be the answer. 

I cannot imagine how you could have thought that being dead would have had anything but a negative effect on your two remaining children and all your grandchildren.

For me it has been the ultimate punch in the face, you wanted to be with your other daughter and not me.

Did you have any awareness that this is how it would leave me feeling?  I hope not!  That way I can fantasise that this is just my own interpretation of how I am feeling, not how you were feeling.

There are days when I want to slap you round the face and remind you that you chose to have children - so why did you bring me up feeling as though it was my own fault that I existed?????

Then there are days when my heart bleeds for what you had to go through as a child, and for the support that you did not get from family, friends or counsellors.

I know I am so very fortunate.  I have an amazing husband, and beautiful loving children.  There are friends surrounding us that are there to support and hold us when we need it.  To leave us be when we need that.  And to make us smile and laugh when we need that.

I do hope seeing me striving to break the mould has not made you sad.  I do hope that you can see that we are trying to nurture individuality and freedom for our children.  Yes  this means there are times when I have to let my children 'Show off', but who are they harming?  Yesterday when A was walking down the street holding her arms out walking like a catwalk model, I could feel you cringing besides me and chastising me for letting her do it.  But she was having fun, she was playing, she was using her imagination to live out fantasies.  She was enjoying herself!  She knew this was an extra special treat - time with me.

There are only three memories that I have of you and me spending time just the two of us, maybe more will come back to me with time.

One was off us shopping together when I was probably 12 or so, but we were shopping for you.  I remember you constantly telling me this.  I had known that is why you were going but had still wanted to come with you with the hope that you might treat me to something.  You didn't, you just got cross that I wanted to look at things that were not what you were looking for.

The next was when I took you for lunch when you were visiting your mum in Kingston.  It must have been when she was in hospital, before Sally died as otherwise she would have come with us.  That I remember being a really pleasant pub lunch.

The last memory is of your birthday present last year.  Do you remember I got us tickets to see a west end show - something you had never done.  But you hated the whole experience.  Even telling me this while we were eating our lunch out in a lovely restaurant.  That hurt me so much.

So today is a bittersweet day for me.  There is a part of me relieved that I no longer feel responsible for trying to make life worth living ( yes I know that I did not have to do this, but it is how I felt).  Then there is the other part that had so hoped that living closer to each other would mean spending more quality time together, maybe even getting to know and respect each other more as we grew older.  For this I grieve.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Breaking the Mould.

Over the last 5 years my attention has been taken away from my family.  I have literally 'forgotten' how I wanted to parent.  Did you catch the 'I wanted' there?  I have always known I needed to parent in a different way from the way I was parented.  I am now starting to realise just what this means.

Now don't get me wrong - I do not blame my parents for parenting me as they did - they did what they could with the resources and experiences they had.   The result of the parenting I received however means I am burdened down with the injunctions that they moulded me with.  The phrase that sums up my up-bringing is 'Stop Showing Off'.  The effect of those three words has been devastating.  They were said for absolutely anything I did that was in any way different from how they behaved, the words came to mean - 'Stop being you'.

I remember with horror the first time I said it to my daughter - I think she was about 7 years old.  Fortunately I had confided in my husband about this injunction and so was able to talk to him about it afterwards.  It is not until I started to have counselling however that I have realised how far this injunction and all that follows it still affect me.  With my attention elsewhere for the last 5 years (looking after mum, dad and my niece) I have sort of lost the plot with my different way of parenting.

I have happily given over a day every 14 days (over the last 6 weeks) to my niece, however I am still not giving my own children their own time with me. 

Last week, I managed to watch a movie with both of them (individually - they have very different tastes).   I love the way God knows what my hearts desire really is.  Today I was in a quandary.  I had planned to take my daughter shopping this morning, knowing I had counselling this afternoon.  However a friend asked if A would like to go for a group bike ride (something she loves) first thing.  I thought maybe we could shop in between finishing that and me going out.  While she was out though I started to think that it was all going to be too much of a rush.  As a result when she came in I gave her the choice.  Either we could go straight away or she could come and meet me in Winchester after I had finished.  She chose the later and I am so pleased she did.

It gave me chance to talk through lots of issues with my counsellor, stuff that tied me down and needed bringing out in the open so that I could really do what I wanted to do - that is SPOIL my daughter.

And so I did.  We had so much fun, shopping for a couple of hours and then going out to eat together.  Tonight I am very exhausted...............but very happy and proud of myself.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

The Wedding Dress.

I mentioned in my last post that I had been busy making a wedding dress for a very dear friend.  If you would like to read the story of it (in three parts) why not hop over to my Mrs Craftypants blog.  You can click on the links below for each of the posts.

The Wedding Dress - Part One
The Wedding Dress - Part Two
The Wedding Dress - Part Three

And here is a sneaky peak of the dress.

Monday, 16 September 2013


Picture taking from Google images, not the real thing!

Hello!  I am still here.  I thought I had better come and say Hi.  Life has been a little (ok VERY) consumed by a wedding dress making project.  I shall be blogging about that another time over on my Mrs Craftypants blog after the wedding next weekend, when the Bride has had the opportunity to show all her friends her dress first.

I thought I would write about swimming today.  (I know the last one was whirlpools - there is obviously something watery going on here).

Since mid May I have been enrolled at a very lovely independent gym with fabulous indoor and outdoor swimming pools.  It is at least a  20 minute trek to get there in the car (as opposed to our local baths which are 10 minutes away).  However the luxury of the place plus the expense means I am totally taking full advantage of my membership.

I arrived today to find the outdoor pool was empty.  I slid into the wonderfully warm water and out of the slight chill that was in the air.  I took myself off to one of the lanes and set forth with my usual rhythm, a length on my front followed by a length on my back.  I can continue like this for an hour.  I know that on my front it takes either 24 or 25 strokes to get from one end to the other.  And on my back it takes between 21 and 22 arm strokes.  I love this rhythm, it also means I don't have to think of much and I don't bang my head on the side of the pool when going backwards.

With the luxury of the pool to myself I was revelling in watching the water still ahead of me whilst going forwards.  Whilst on my back the sky kept me entertained.  Pure blue at times, the occasional fluffy white cloud, the odd grey bubbly cloud, birds, aeroplanes, butterflies, bees - complete bliss.  I stroke away feeling blessed beyond belief.

Then I hear a splashy swishy sound, and I am certain I was not making it.  I was on my back so could not see what was behind me, but I guessed it - my peace had been shattered.  If only it had been a shattering of the pure bliss I was experiencing, but it wasn't.  Big Splashy Man had come into the pool.  Not content with  taking a space on the other side of the pool from me, he came right up against the lane divider next to me.  Within seconds the water was choppy.  Every time we passed each other I had chlorinated water splashed all over my face and up my nose.  On one occasion as I was just finishing off my back length he completely submerged me and left me gagging and gasping for air.  I was going to say something, but he had no idea of the carnage he was causing and continued a pace.

The peace was gone, a few more folk came into the pool and suddenly my back lengths of 21 or 22 strokes were taking 24 to 25.  On my front it felt like I was swimming in treacle.  The edge of the pool taking forever to come into reach of my fingertips.

I looked at the clock and saw that I had done almost an hour, I could hear my friends voice in my head, reminding me as she had to take it easy (having been ill over the weekend).  I stopped and looked around and saw big black clouds looming.  Sometimes it really is about knowing when to get out.

Sitting in the sauna afterwards I was musing on how much my grief is like Big Splashy Man.  I rarely know when it is going to rear it's head, however there are triggers which mean I know it may well be coming.  For me at the moment, it is seeing the lights on in the house where my mum used to live.  Or looking at the house she was going to buy just around the corner from us.  Even shopping in our little town centre where I would often bump into her.  Like Big Splashy Man, I have no control over it's intensity, sometimes it is worse than others.  It is also quite interesting to note that it is often following moments of complete bliss and feeling blessed that  Big Splashy Man, rears his head.

After a lovely quiet time in the Sauna, I decided to treat myself to 10 minutes in the indoor jacuzzi.  Once more I was peaceful.  I was also feeling very smug that I had been right about those big grey clouds, they were still hanging over the outdoor pool.  Then would you believe it Big Shouty Man got into the jacuzzi next to mine and started having a very loud conversation with his friend.  Typical I was just thinking when horror of horrors - Big Splashy Man got into MY jacuzzi.  That was too much, it was obviously time for me to go home.

post script - I do apologise to Mr Splashy Man and Mr Shouty Man for associating you with my grief as I have, it really is nothing personal, I am sure you are perfectly lovely people!!!!!!!!!!!!

post post script - the swimming is doing me a lot of good, I'm going 3 times a week and have so far lost over 5 kg :o) x

Thursday, 1 August 2013

In the Whirlpool.

I have started back with my counsellor.  It was a wonderful God-incidence to discover that she had a client finishing just as I called, in a slot I could take.  The relief of being able to see the same lady was immense, I'm not sure I could have started again with someone else, with all that has gone on.  Being remembered and not having to go back over the past has made returning much easier.

Having said that it is not an easy business facing up to things.  We were discussing the whirlpool of grief today.  Trying to actually name some of the feelings that are swirling around in my mind at the moment. I have had a revelation - I am totally illiterate at reading my own feelings.

Growing up feelings were either ignored or worse, discounted.  I have always wondered why when in emotional moments my gut instinct is to run away and hide.  There have been times when I have actually done this.  I remember during a turbulent relationship in my late teens, finding myself on the M1 driving to Leeds in my car.  I even got as far as deciding I would find a hotel room, before realising that I was a young woman on my own and had a safe bed to go to if I really wanted it.

So how is my illerateness (I'm sure that is not a word) affecting me now?  It means I can't tell those closest to me how I feel, because I don't even know myself.  I know I feel pants (awful) but I can rarely put my finger on why.  This means those around me have no idea what to do or say.  It also means that I just build walls with no doors and retreat (runaway) into myself.  And I can tell you that is not a very nice place to be.

What has shook me most is realising that I am going to end up passing on something to my children that I really do not want to - maybe they will start thinking they have done something to make me feel bad.  Maybe they will just think that I am forever grumpy.  Even worse than this maybe I will not be able to teach them how to identify their own emotions/feelings enabling them to handle things that they are going to have to face as they grow up.

So I have a choice, to learn to identify and vocalise my emotions or to stay as I am.  It really is a no brainer, however I know it is not going to be an easy journey.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Hope for the Hopeless

What do you do when you are told that this might be as good as it gets?  What about all your hopes and dreams?

I am talking about my niece, her mental health has once again deteriorated very quickly, she is harming herself worse than she has ever done during this 6 month admission.  Three weeks ago we were planning her discharge as she was doing so well. 

I have sat in a meeting with all the 'professionals' caring for her for two hours this afternoon.  The general consensus appears to be that this could well be as good as it gets.  REALLY? FOREVER?

My heart is broken enough from all the losses that have driven her to the place where she is, how on earth can I keep it from shattering completely?  It isn't even just an emotional pain that I feel anymore, my heart actually aches so that it catches my breath.

I cannot possibly accept this is as good as it gets surely?  Where is my hope in a God that heals, whose heart is for the broken and the orphaned?  Do I accept what they say and so start to guard my heart from the pain that it is going to have to continue to endure for her?  Or can my God give me the strength to stand firm, to endure the pain and to hope eternally?

I so HOPE it is the later,  shortly after she stopped living with us I did much of the guarding myself from the pain.  I managed it for about 12 months before the cracks in this plan became to deep that the pain started to spill.  I then had to give up work because of the deterioration in my health.  I do not want to go there again.

I guess all I can do at the moment is make this my prayer and have that same HOPE.

2 Chronicles 14:10-12

Good News Translation (GNT)
10 Asa went out to fight him, and both sides took up their positions at Zephathah Valley near Mareshah. 11 Asa prayed to the Lord his God, “O Lord, you can help a weak army as easily as a powerful one. Help us now, O Lord our God, because we are relying on you, and in your name we have come out to fight against this huge army. Lord, you are our God; no one can hope to defeat you.”12 The Lord defeated the Ethiopian army when Asa and the Judean army attacked them. They fled,

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Mrs Craftypants Giveaway

Over on my crafty site that you can find over here is my very first giveaway!  If you would like the little kitty below go over and see what you need to do!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Time in the garden

This weekend my husband was NOT working and it was NOT raining!  Finally we could get out in the garden together.  I set about finishing off a little DIY project, upcycling a set of nesting tables into nice tile topped garden tables.  I still have one more lot of grouting to do and some painting so won't post any photo's until I have done that.  My lovely husband set about sorting out a border that had got so out of hand you could only see a couple of plants that were growing way to abundantly.  I posted this photo last June with a note that we wanted to take the border back to basics.

Well now he has done it for me!  It looks a little different, and as you can see we have managed to salvage a few of the plants.

I am so looking forward to planning out what I want to do it now that I can see how much space there is.  I have managed to hopefully salvage, a lovely pink Hebe, a bunch of Alliums and some blue bells.

I have also managed to get seeds planted in my veg plot and tried my hand at a little recycling of plastic bottles we had been saving to hopefully keep the birds and cats off - what do you think?

This year I have planted, lettuce, salad leaves, spinach, sugar snap peas, parsnips, pumpkins, broccoli and spring onions.  Let's hope it is not as wet as last year and things actually grow and not just get mouldy!

Next job for my husband is to finish clearing another area that we are reconfiguring.

This photo was taken a couple of years ago, well after all the rain last year the seat was crumbling and so we have decided to make another raised bed here in between the border at the top of the page and my rose garden.

Talking of my rose garden - this picture was taken just after it had been planted, 3 years ago, would you like to see a picture of it now?

Ta-dah, there is still more plants to go in but I am really enjoying slowly seeing it grow into itself.

I can't wait for the little buds that are already there to bloom in bring more colour into this area.

One border that is not going to need too much doing to it this year is my wiggly border

I am really happy with how full it is looking, in the next few weeks there is going to be an abundance of white with beautiful purple alliums like balloons on sticks emerging from them.

do you see the bench in the picture above?  This was made by my late father for my late mother, I know it is is at least 30 years old.  It has been all stripped back but on doing this we discovered it had a rather poorly foot
Fortunately I seem to have found someone at church who is a carpenter and is going to have a go at fixing it for me.  The sentimental value of this bench makes it priceless.  When it is fixed and painted, I have also been working on crochet cushions for the seat and back.  I am so looking forward to a good bit of sitting on this in NICE weather over this summer!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Holiday Time.

You may have notice I have been absent for a while - or maybe you haven't.  Shortly after mum died in February we made the snap decision to have a lovely holiday over the two week Easter holidays.  We went to Southwest America, did 4400 miles and the children had an amazing time.  For me and hubby there was a lot of reminiscing of a very similar trip we took before we had our first child 14 years ago.  Unfortunately I was rather ill for the majority of the holiday, however I was able to be thankful for being sick in very beautiful places rather than sitting around at home.

I have definitely hit a bit of flatness since returning.  My immune system having been very active attacking whatever the virus was that I had is still playing havoc with my rheumatoid arthritis.  I have finally admitted defeat (why on earth do I view it like that!) and phoned the hospital to get an appointment for a steroid injection.  Hopefully that might just jolt things back onto a more even keel.

Here are a few snaps from our holiday

 A little jet lagged but enjoying our first American breakfast.

on our way to the Grand Canyon we got to stop off at the church in the mountainside at Sedona

The next stop was at the Meteor Crater - the children were amazed!

we got to see so many amazing skys and beautiful sunsets 

sunrise at the Grand Canyon
 Sunsetting at the Grand Canyon

 Next stop - Monument Valley

 we did see lots and lots of road!

 but there was always time to stop and look at the flowers.

 and while the rest of the family walked I got to crochet at Zion National Park.
Then it was time to hit Las Vegas!

 and I got to meet up with my cousin Susan and her family who I hadn't seen for 17 years.
 and despite feeling rough, I still got to dip in the pool.

 we were staying right up there at there, beyond the top of this photo.

 My young American wannabee daughter at the Hoover Dam

The bottle tree ranch just outside Las Vegas

A trip to Victorville for hubby to see the airplane graveyard.
and then onto San Diego to meet up with Susanne a fellow blogger I have followed at Meditative Meanderings for over 4 years and her daughter Elizabeth.

 we got a guided tour of San Diego in just one day - this is the tropical house at Balboa Park, unlike the glass houses we have to have in England for these plants, this building was made out of slatted wood to give the plants a bit of shade - no glass required!
Californian Poodles!

 Fancy having your graduation ceremony here?  Hopefully this is where Susanne's daughter will get hers. Point Loma Nazarene University

 We could not leave San Diego without a trip to the beach, our girls looked for shells while we......

 sat and chatted some more.

and then it was on to Los Angeles!

 The children loved the amazing views from the Griffiths Observatory

 Not content with Disney in Florida - we had to try out the original park.

 To celebrate my first day of feeling almost normal we went for an amazing meal at the Encounter Restaurant at Los Angeles International Airport - my husbands favourite restaurant in the world.
 we stood in the footsteps of some famous people and horses.

 A rare posed photo of my teenage son.
there had to be a trip to another Universal Studios

and good to go and stuff that wasn't in Florida.

visiting Wisteria Lane.

 We also took a trip out to Edwards Air Base to visit my cousin's place and chat some more.

 and see humming birds :o)

and eat delicious food - thanks guys.
 A trip to Santa Monica pier on our last day

 You are never too old to go on the swings.

before we headed back home.

I hope you enjoyed that whistle stop tour - it has certainly got me smiling again on this cold and rainy SPRING morning.  I'm off to get my hair cut now.