All That Dazzled in December!

Sorry, I know for most December is a distant memory now,- for me too the gilt has faded and peeled … but finding time to blog during last month would have been impossible and to be perfectly honest I had neither the energy nor the time!  My impetus for most things has waned of late – but I’m trying to pull my socks up.  Moreover I at least attempt for my blog posts to focus on the good and the glory and be inspiring and uplifting, rather than the alternative.   However, as honesty always reigns with me – I have to admit that December was pretty harsh.  I had to well and truly buckle up my braces in December …. it was fast, frantic and at moments pretty furious …. it was fraught (isn’t my life always?) and there were moments of fear,  losses were incredibly evident …… BUT it was punctuated with fabulousness, fun and frolics too …. So here’s me glossing over the nastiness and free-falling into all the fantastic things I’d like to share with you ….

 

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MASSIVE HUGE THANKS WAFL

I find myself counting my blessings most days (don’t yawn, I know it’s a total cliche phht) – but some days can be pretty lousy, believe me.  (That sounds really negative and I don’t mean it to sound like that – I know, I have a good life, hear me out) … I think that recognising every silver lining  makes me appreciate the good stuff all the more and realise that the bad stuff isn’t always worse case scenario and I do know just how bad things could truly be.  I didn’t chose life as a 24/7 Carer.  I was never really attuned to a caring profession – though these days I frequently feel like I’m following a medical profession!

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Yes I’ve always loved children, never quite imagined having my own, and still can’t quite believe the responsibility I have for 3 of them!  I adore my children equally, but my eldest son will always be my ward and take the lions share of my attention and energy because, whilst I hope that Jem and Scarlett will become independent and make an impression in the big wide world, Archie will remain in my care for a lifetime.  I wouldn’t have it any other way, and, don’t get me wrong, even on the toughest of days I adore the bones of him.  We have some fabulous highs and some very worrying lows  … BUT, this said, as a family we have more opportunities than most and we continue to chase those dreams and I like to think that often times we succeed – because we don’t give in easily.

It always means a great deal to me, to us, when people recognise our struggles and offer help – especially without me asking for it (something I find incredibly difficult to do).  The smallest gesture can often make the biggest difference and when I made a new friend through an old friend last year I didn’t realise quite what an impact this person would have on me.

My old school friend, Heidi, has always taken an interest in my family and has been supportive of Archie and followed  his journey through highs and lows on Facebook.  Heidi works in the care industry, dealing with modified and specialist equipment, albeit for adults. In the past Heidi has offered her assistance in sourcing things that I might need for Archie.  I haven’t had the need to call on her help, as yet, but it’s great to know she’s there – if I need her.  Heidi messaged me a few months back and asked if I would mind if a friend/ex-colleague of hers, got in touch, as she’d like to speak to me about Archie.  As a friend of Heidi’s, I agreed, and soon after I met with Sonia.  Such a lovely lady, we were destined to be friends. Conversation flowed and an hour of banter easily became two.  I was flattered, if a little embarrassed (as it’s normally us doing the fundraising and helping others) and exceptionally grateful of Sonia’s fundraising proposition, by means of her husband Carl’s and his friends and colleagues; known as WAFL (Wharfedale & Airedale  Friday Luncheon Society) to raise money for a piece of equipment or some sort of monetary support for Archie.  Initially we looked at getting a specialist bike which transports a wheelchair, but figured that such a massive expense (several £thousands)  for an item that we’d use infrequently  (never mind finding somewhere to store it!) – seemed extravagant and maybe wasn’t the best idea.  We’re currently looking to find £thousands for further adaptations to Archie’s bedroom and to provide storage for his medical supplies … but that’s not a fun thing to spend money on either, however necessary. So we’re currently looking into getting a touch screen and/or a flat screen TV for Archie’s room.  He’s spent a ridiculous amount of weeks in hospital this year and/or recuperating in bed at home, and we want to make any down time as entertaining and as stimulating for him as possible – so I think either or both of these would be a great idea. We know we’re super lucky and would like to extend a huge THANK YOU from Archie and from all of us, for the very generous donation from WAFL at their Christmas Dinner, for hosting us at their event and for the gifts supplied by it’s sponsor Mercedes (I’m still holding out for the silver convertible parked outside the venue!!).

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It was such a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon at the Royal Armouries and Archie, Heather (Archie’s Angel/PA) and I were very well looked after.  It was great to meet the other families benefiting from the monies raised, the many attendees and the personalities.  

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My Dad was particularly impressed that I met some of the Yorkshire County Cricketers (Dad used to be rather well known on that circuit don’t ya know)!  I even bumped into some old friends of mine from way back (It’s such a small world and they were very sweet in making me feel welcome and allaying my fears at making a speech in front of the very masculine and braying crowd!).  We’re definitely holding out for a future invite and next time I’ll have my gladrags on (I felt woefully underdressed)  and I wish to goodness I’d had an acceptance speech prepared … you say WAFL … I say waffle!!

IMG_2522 (2)       So long as I spoke clearly and managed to accept the cheque gratefully on Archie’s behalf and express our thanks and appreciation!

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 HOMEMADE DELIGHTS

I regularly revel in the creativity of my children and from those cardboard box and scrap monstrosities that made their way home in Reception (and took days, sometimes weeks, to advance nearer and nearer to the recycle bin), we seem to have advanced to the rather more creative and fabulous ‘award-winning’ pieces of artwork that they bring home today.  I’ve never been disappointed to be honest – everything they make brings delight to me, and to see the pride on their faces is priceless.  Both my youngest have a creative flare and love nothing more than making something, anything, and I don’t just mean trouble!  At Christmas time I received calendars and cards and tree decorations and other novelties.  I was spoilt rotten.  I think one of my favourites has to be the gorgeous marbled bauble that Scarlett created for me at Firefly Pottery, in Horsforth, when she visited with her Brownie pack before Christmas.  

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It’s so lovely, so unique, and I’ve only just packed it away nestled safely in bubble wrap, ready for it’s appearance next year.  I’ve been invited to Firefly  Pottery numerous times for girlie evenings to create something myself … but each date has been hampered by some crisis or other and I’ve had to cancel on many occasion.  I will, therefore, endeavour to visit and create this year.  I believe that Jem and his scouts are going to Firefly in the coming month and I can’t wait to see what he brings home.  Firefly Pottery  http://fireflypottery.co.uk/ was conjured up by a young Mum in Horsforth, one I know, from our school, just over a year ago,  and I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about it . I suspect that it’s booming.  If you have even the smallest of creative bones in your body I urge you to visit and hone your creativity into something unique and truly fabulous!

 I’ve been using my creativity in my free (who am I kidding!) time too …

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KNITTED SOCKS

I very nearly wrote a whole blog about ‘knitted socks and nonsense’ way back when, as I started knitting frantically towards the end of last year … I was finding it hugely therapeutic and a good way to while away the hours of worry and sleepless nights in a productive way.  

Whilst I’m not my wonderful Mum, the creative, multi-tasking designer knitting genius that she was, I’m thinking of her constantly and, channelling her creativity and trying desperately to get a grip and generally SUCKING IT UP.  I embraced all things twinkly and Christmassy in December and when all around me was making me crumble –  I knitted socks.  That curative venture of intense concentration, arduous labour (resulting in slightly slimmer bingo wings – I might add) and most importantly the production of  a mass of lovingly created knitted socks to begift my nearest and dearest.  I rock a little as I knit – but that’s OK … or so I’m led to believe!

I was so pleased that the hamper I put together for my cousin and her beautiful daughters; namely an indulgent afternoon treat of girlie film,  hot chocolate, foot treats (lotions, potions and polishes) a pair of ‘knitted socks’ each and plenty of chocolate, hit the right note and they were all suitably thrilled.

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I know how much I love homemade presents that someone has taken the care to produce and I’d like to thank a special friend for her homemade Christmas cookies that we shared as a family around the fire on a particularly cold day!

 IMG_3411  Thanks Sacha x

I’ve still been reading whenever I can ….

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ANOTHER GOOD READ

Quips and witticisms from Sandi to her daughter on just about any situation where understanding,platitudes and manners are required. I learnt a little (from ‘forking’ history – to the fact that babies don’t have kneecaps!).  It wasn’t a wower – but it was good and fun and I liked the fact that it was easy to pick up and put down.  Nice one Sandi!  http://bit.ly/1PYj0tY  If I were you I’d give it a go …. I’m pretty certain even you can learn something!

The Other Woman’s Shoes

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Adele Parks and her girlie nookie snook into my bedroom for a few days last month too.  I have to say her books never fail to thrill and entertain and it was JUST the frivolous escapism I’m always seeking.  I don’t care what anyone says … If you’re a young woman (or a slightly older one) looking for a bit of light relief – you can’t go wrong reaching for one of Adele’s many novels! http://bit.ly/1R3bEpX  This one’s an absolute cracker and I devoured it in less than 2 weeks despite them being a very busy 2 weeks!  Go grab a copy and enjoy 🙂

 

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LEEDS RHINOS Boxing Day Extravaganza

Boxing Day proved to be a real pleaser .  The boys were thrilled to go see the Rhino’s match and I was thrilled and super proud to see my little poppet make her debut appearance on-pitch as a Rhinestone’s cheerleader.

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 I was incredibly proud of all the dancers, as it was throwing it down with rain and particularly cold – but they danced nevertheless and they were fantastic.  Way to go girls!!  Such a shame the Rhino’s didn’t win he match  … but I’m sure it’s just a blip – we’re expecting another fantastic season from them.

 

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SUPER NAZ

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Two trips to A&E in a week and things were beginning to look a little shaky for my main man in the run up to Christmas – BUT the stars were in our favour and one particular star performed his magic on Archie once again.  THANKS so very much to Naz (and your team) … I hope you’re on hand to save my man every time his tubes need replacing – because it certainly seems you’re the ‘man who can. ‘ We’re so incredibly grateful for you coming to our rescue and saving our little man not once, but twice this year .. and also saving us from a Christmas of hospital food.  I know we’ll see you again, but hopefully in due course and not before time!

 

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THANKS ROCKLEY

Massive thanks to our friends at Rockley who very kindly sent Archie a wonderful snuggly winter hat to see him through the winter months.  Part of their winter promotional uniform, that Archie will wear in warmth and with pride!  We’re still talking about our wonderful holiday and are seriously chuffed that Scarlett and Jem both appear in the 2016 seasonal marketing brochure!!  We’re currently saving our pennies and after such an amazing holiday with you in 2015 we’re hoping we see you again in the very near future!

 

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TREND-SETTER

You may have seen Scarlett in Suburban Magazine last month – an article I wrote with pride to publicise the cause and maybe encourage others to follow suit.  I’m immensely proud of my beautiful daughter and her ‘hair cut’ fund has reached the lofty heights of £487.50 – so I’m going to close her just giving page http://bit.ly/1FLvy59  before the end of this month – but not before I’ve topped it up to £500.  I noted the other day that Salma Hayek has revealed her 8-year-old daughter, Valentina, is growing her hair to donate too http://huff.to/1SrMjDK …. Salma has always been a real girl crush of mine – so it gives me great pleasure that we’re like-minded … though I hasten to add we got their first!  Feel free to join the growing trend…

 

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RIP FURBY

My little girl’s letter to Santa was startlingly brief and right up there with her much coveted ‘Fashion Barbie’ was batteries for her much-loved Furbie!!  Naturally, Santa fulfilled her modest wishes … but Furbie just isn’t playing ball.  We have tried everything, I’ve even tried to contact the company with regards reconditioning and maintenance help – but sadly nothing can be done.  Furbie will no longer communicate and my daughter is beyond grief-stricken.  There were so many tears on Christmas Day and afterwards.  If anyone has any Furby advice, or if Mr ‘I make Furbies’ can give me any pointers I would be eternally grateful.  I can’t believe quite how attached a child can become to a toy that interacts and Furbie has made a massive impression on my daughter … I hope there is a miracle and he can somehow be restored to life.  (I’m keeping my fingers firmly crossed)!

 

Christmas this year was a difficult one – but one that was aided by the love, company and general merriment of socialising with family and friends.  We’ve particularly enjoyed our ‘games’ days, and we’re fired up and ready to fight our way through 2016 with a vengeance!

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 My daughter literally punched her way into the new year at the Jackson’s …. I guess that’s what you get when you see the new year in with a sporty family and the boys just aren’t playing ball!

Happy New Year to all my followers … here’s hoping that 2016 is wonderous, prosperous and fabulous for all of us.

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HOLDING OUT FOR A HAPPY ONE

Gah – don’t you just hate that …. the resolutions, the promises … the endless back-peddling? No?

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Well I could insert any one of a number of grievances here (and more than a hefty handful of expletives) – because, quite frankly, 2015 was a complete bitch of a year.  One of my worst, One I was more desperate than most to see the back of.  Shiny new pins sadly deflate things and the last ‘new year’ started very much as it continued.  I could harp on about my deeply disturbing and tragic losses – my grief at those that will never be overcome in my lifetime … I could choose to do that – I could sigh at the friendships that have fallen by the wayside,  because I haven’t had the time or energy to maintain them,  (Oh, I know I’ve been a shocking friend too, all wrapped up in my own personal hell,- but if you’d have made the effort to find out why – maybe you’d have understood …. or maybe I’m so slack that I’ve failed to learn that you’ve been going through your own living hell?  I know I’m not blameless and I’m sorry for that), I could remark at length at my weak and sorrowful moments, of which there have been many,  indeed I could wallow  for more than a moment in helpless self-pity (not unwarranted – though some may say a little dramatic even for me!) or I could take the lumpy, bumpy moral high ground and instead choose to tell you what I’ve learnt this year and what I have to feel good about….

I’ve learnt that love and friendship supersedes most things – or, at the very least, it most definitely helps.  Those squeezes in the playground – I can’t tell you quite how much they were needed at times, those frivolous texts that made me smile, those private facebook messages urging me to get a grip and reminding me that I’m not alone, those bum prints on my wall – where friends have sat a while with some words of wisdom or cheer, those cheeky tweets, the love hearts <3 the smiley faces – the pokes (does anyone even do that any more?)… Some of you and your little asides – don’t even realise how integral a part you’ve played in keeping my mental state buoyant (albeit just bobbing above the line of sanity this year).

I have a special little mention for my neighbours (& gaybours) because in the words of the rather popular 80′ TV programme of the same name (that I used to think was so absurd and far fetched in it’s content – until moving into our neighbourhood!) ‘Good neighbours’ really do ‘become good friends!’  Some would say it’s because we’re all of the same nutty assortment – and p’raps I’d be wrong to disagree.  Proximity or whatever threw us together – the camaraderie and kindliness of the same has not gone unnoticed. I’m glad our paths share the same footfall and our glasses frequently share the same few bottles!

I couldn’t be more grateful to those of a medical, supportive and nurturing disposition who have helped to get my son through the year, through one medical crisis and another … To our very own Archie’s Angels, without whom everyday life would be that little bit harder and my own sanity a whole lot more challenged.  To those nurses who took time to understand our situation and taught me to care for my own son, making us ever more self-sufficient and freeing up their time for more urgent matters, and a very special mention to Naz at the LGI who came to Archie’s rescue on two separate occasions this year and most definitely spared us both a 7th week of incarceration and a Christmas of hospital food!  Our heartfelt appreciation for stepping up where others feared or didn’t have the time to tread!  I can’t tell you quite how much we value your medical interventions this year!

Renewed friendships and family connections that have blossomed this year have made my Dad, my family and I very happy.  We’re looking forward to these getting stronger still in 2016.

There have been some amazing times this year too, mainly that have come about suddenly or unexpectedly.  A beautiful wedding of two lovely friends putting the Valentine love into February.  Birthday celebrations hailing my children older, wiser and giddier than ever and us grateful that landmarks have been reached and exceeded, albeit in the absence of loved ones.  Those plans that have been thwarted once, twice or even thrice …. but then gave way to one of the best nights ever.  Those simple girly afternoons that turned into something wonderful over afternoon tea, mocktails, cocktails, and laughter.  The heavenly spa day a friend and I managed to sneak under the radar to recoup a little ‘Tranquility’ footloose and child-free.  Those amazing things my children do that make me proud – from the smallest of hurdles to selfless gestures and big achievements…. I’m ridiculously thankful for all of those … and more – in the darkest of moments I’ve clung onto these.

So, all in all, in a piteously tough and mentally challenging year – where all vices have been pushed to the limit and normality backed in a corner – I’ve learned that it’s OK to be sad, it’s even better to share, that it’s great to help others (especially if this very selfishly makes you forget your own problems). I know that the littlest of gestures can sometimes make the biggest of differences and that true friends are worth their weight in gold. 

This year has seen a myriad of emotions and has left me an exhausted shell of my former self.  Good job I don’t give in easy and I’m pretty confident I’ll find my pzazz sometime in 2016 along with my sanity and my rapidly disappearing waistline!!

So, it’s probably of no surprise that after a lovely lunch and afternoon  playing games with friends, tea out with Dad and a few hours with the troops at a drinks party with good friends, I ended my year in bed early with a good book (laters), a couple of painkillers and a relatively clear head.  Number one child peacefully sleeping like a baby … the other two in bed but sniggering at the back catalogue of Shaun The Sheep episodes on YouTube and a husband vomiting in the  downstairs bathroom after having choked on a piece of foil from his Rennies packet ironically (though not so comically) lodged in his asthma inhaler!  I so could have used artistic license there and said ‘tinsel’ it might have sounded more aurally pleasing and seasonally appropriate – but not in this house!

Which only leaves me to say SAYONARA 2015 and may I extend my slightly trembling and well worn hand to 2016 – a year which I hope will bring us all health and wealth and all good things and to everyone this blog and my friendship touches may I wish you the same and let’s raise a glass (and a facial fold or two) to the HAPPINESS FACTOR and enjoying the ride.  Chin chin!

 

Heading into 2016 and feeling FIERCE

BRAVE (3)    S-J x