Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The BUPA Great South Run

 
 
As I have written about on many occasions, a few months ago I started running again.  This has been beneficial to both my physical and mental health.  I had to have a goal however.  I decided that I would not have the time, this year, to commit to a Marathon although I did give it serious consideration.

Instead I opted for two shorter races.  The BUPA Great South Run in Portsmouth (10 miles) and then a local Half Marathon (13.1 miles) in March 2013.  Along the way I have participated in various 5K and 10K races.  I watched the countdown clock on my Run Keeper account ticking down the days to the BUPA GSR and finally on Sunday 28 October 2012, it arrived.

Much planning, besides the running training, had been undertaken for this race.  It wasn't local to where I live so we had hotels to book.  The idea originally was that we would all go along for the weekend, myself, The Hubby, children and my parents.  Then my parents decided instead, to gift us a child free weekend.

So once child-care was in place, hotels secured, running information received, kit and weekend bag packed, route established, dog taken to her 'holiday retreat' (my cousin who would secretly like to keep her) we set off on a chilly October Saturday.
 
After a short detour (The Hubby always 'just has to do ... (something)' we arrived at our hotel in Portsmouth.  An upgrade to a suite received thankfully we dropped our stuff and heading for some food in the bar.  Whilst here, The Hubby started to chat to the only other patron in the area, and it turned out he was the snooker player Tony Drago.  The World Seniors Tournament was taking place not far from our hotel and he was due to play his match that evening.  He was a very interesting and genuine chap and we had a very pleasurable couple of hours in his company.
 
We decided on having dinner in the hotel restaurant as I wanted an early night before the big day.  I was in bed by 21:00 but did not sleep great.  I was very conscious of not getting the timing of the day wrong due to the clocks going back.  However, I felt good on Sunday morning and after a good breakfast we headed out early to make our way into Portsmouth, having been given fair warning about the amount of traffic that comes into the City for the race.
 
The morning was bitterly cold, but because we were early we got a good parking space quite near the start of the race.  This meant I could stay in the car, in the warm, until the last minute.  The race participants were divided into colours, Orange, White, Green, depending on what time you had indicated you could complete the race in.  I was in Green, the final group.  However, we watched the Elite Men go - started by Dame Kelly Holmes. 
 
It was great being in a big race again.  I forgot what the energy of a crowd of runners can do for you.  There was the 'warm up' - which resulted in everyone being in fits of laughter as there was no room to do any of the 'limbering up' that was being indicated for us to do.  Then there was cheering as the crowd slowly moved forward towards the start line.
 
It was a good route, very flat and support for the duration.  We took in the sites of the The Spinnaker, The Victory, The Boat Yard and other tourist attractions.  They had various bands situated at markers to lift spirits, I think my favourite was the African Drums, they were very powerful.  I wanted to stop and listen to them though.
 
 
 
Luckily I saw The Hubby at around the half way point and was able to give him my hat and gloves.  It is always lovely to see your loved ones on a race.  I was feeling really good until about 12K.  Then I had to have a sweet burst to help with the energy levels.  I decided to do a mile of a few minutes running, one walking to conserve the energy I had left to ensure that I could run the full last mile.
 
Seeing mile 9 felt great, and as always the support increased in the home stretch.  As much as I was hurting by this point, I kept on going and thought about the full body massage I had booked for later that day!  As I crossed the finish line, the big clock was showing 01:59:02 so I was thrilled to have completed my goal of finishing within two hours.  However, when my actual time was text through (within minutes of finishing to both mine and Hubbys phone) it was actually 01:54:46.
 
On returning to the hotel I enjoyed a deep, hot bubble bath before a very luxurious full body massage.  We then opted to be super lazy and order room service and a movie (a rare treat) before I had the best nights sleep I have had for ages.  A leisurely morning followed by an afternoon of sorting out J1's birthday presents was the end to a lovely weekend.
 
For anyone wondering if they should do a big race, I would recommend this one.  A flat and friendly route in a lovely City.
 
 
 

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Fiction : Camomile Crescent - Sarah and Sean : Mel's Return

For the previous instalment of 'Sarah and Sean' click here

Sarah Wright stood close to her husband, Sean, with excited anticipation as she scanned the faces piling through the 'Arrivals' corridor and out into the voluminous airport.  Her 18 year old daughter, Melanie, was returning from her European adventure any moment now.  They had already received the text to say she had landed safely and now Sarah was a mere moment away from being able to embrace her daughter, whom she had missed so dearly.

"For goodness sake stand still." Sean jested.  Sarah stilled and smiled.

"Sorry, I didn't realise I was doing it again."  Sean put his solid, sturdy arm around his wife.

"You're like an over excited puppy." he said affectionately.  Sarah returned her arm around Sean and rested her head into his side.

"She's my baby - I've missed her." Sarah sighed.

"I know.  What are you going to do when she goes off to University next week?" Sean questioned.

"That's different.  She's only a car journey away and I will be able to speak to her on the telephone a lot more." Sarah answered.

"Ahhhh I see." Sean replied.  His height ensured he saw Melanie making her way through the next wave of tanned, relaxed, smiling travellers first.  She was dragging two huge cases behind her, panting.  He felt Sarah release him as she spotted their daughter and went running forward to meet her.  He watched the two most important women in his life embrace tightly with pure affection and love for one another.  He, not for the first time, thought how lucky he was to have a wife and daughter that got on so well.

Sean made his way over to Melanie as Sarah did the typical motherly thing of standing back to check her daughter over.  As he neared he heard Sarah proclaiming that Melanie "Looked amazing!" before she embracing her again.

"Hey Dad." Melanie managed to mumbled through her mothers hold.  Sarah released her, still beaming, making room for Sean to hug his daughter.  Sean had to agree, Melanie did look healthy.  He could see she had gained a little weight, to be expected given the amount of exercise she was used to in her usual day to day routine.  With the likely alcohol consumption and eating out she had probably participated in, it was inevitable.

"Sean, you take the cases."  Sarah instructed as she handed him Mel's holdall.  She linked her arm through her daughters "So, we want to hear all about it." she gushed strolling away with Mel.  Sean glanced at the two oversized and bulging cases.  He was certain when he had waved Melanie off almost 12 weeks earlier she had waddled away under the weight of a rucksack?  He was also sure that the size and weight of these cases far exceeded the European baggage allowance and he wondered how she had been able to afford the excess baggage fee.  He decided not to be a nag and bring it up yet, he didn't want to spoil the family reunion.

Melanie regaled them with stories about her travels on the car journey home, whilst responding to various text messages.  She was constantly glancing at the screen her mother noticed smiling.  Oh to be young, she thought.  Melanie spoke most animatedly when it came to her time in Italy and Sarah sensed that was the place she had fallen in love with.  Melanie had noted, rather forlornly that she wished she could have just spent the whole summer there.  Sarah suspected it was due to the fabulous shopping opportunities, especially if the contents of the trunk Melanie had asked Sarah to have shipped home for her were anything to go by.  As she had unpacked it - while Sean was at work and unaware - she had been shocked at the amount of clothes and shoes her daughter had purchased.

As they drew close to Camomile Crescent, Melanie, checking her phone again, sighed.

"That was a big sigh!" Sean laughed.

"Exhausted sigh." replied Melanie quickly putting her phone roughly away in her pocket. "Anything exciting happen on the Crescent while I was away?"

"Nothing of note." Sarah responded "That Winterbourne women," her tone dripping with disgust "Continues to think she is above everyone else.  Almost everyday I see her getting out of her car, designer bags on her arm.  She must have a warehouse in the back garden for all the clothes she buys.  And, I actually overheard her on her mobile phone a few days ago saying how depressing it was living opposite a semi-detached!  Cheeky mare.  At least they have kept their houses in keeping with the integrity of the street, unlike the renovation work she has had had done.  You would hardly know some of the houses were from the beautiful Victorian era now.  I really don't know how they have got away with it.  All flooding in with too much time and money on their hands.  I felt like saying, you shouldn't have moved here if it's below your high standards."  Melanie chuckled thinking of her own extensive walk in wardrobe.  Her mother was by no means a snob, but she hadn't minded that Camomile Crescents desirability status had gone through the roof over the last few years.  Melanie would never dare say that to her mother however.

"You should have done mum." Melanie cajouled.  She saw her dad raise his eyebrows in the rear view mirror.  Sarah continued

"Both of those families keep their homes lovely and clean and tidy.  Even that young girl, Emma, despite having four children.  I spoke to her, Emma I mean, for the first time the other day actually.  She mentioned all four kiddies have started school now, even the little girls.  They are as small as dots.  Dear little things.  I think she is at a loss as to what to do.  I told her to put her feet up for a couple of hours and enjoy it!" she laughed at her own advice. "And I spoke to that young professional couples mum."  Melanie indicated she wasn't sure who she was referring to "Number 19,"  Sarah clarified "I think the chap is an Architect, he doesn't seem to be here much and the girl is always looking immaculate.  Anyway, at first I thought she was the cleaner, and although she does do their cleaning she is the young lady's mum.  I think she called her Danielle." she mused.

Melanie was surprised her Mother had suddenly started speaking to the neighbours, she never recalled her doing so before.  Mind you, without her there over the summer she was probably looking for someone to talk to.  Melanie had never really known her mother to have many friends, outside of her dad.  Not that it had ever seemed detrimental.  Her parents lived for each other, and her.  They had always been a happy tight unit.  Her mother added "She said they work every hour God sends but they have spent a lot of money doing the house up inside.  I got the impression she didn't approve of them working so hard, but I think that is the way to do it.  Get a good education, work hard, play hard.  Enjoy your life while you are young enough to do it."  Her mother was too busy talking to notice Melanie's eyes move nervously.  As her father turned the car engine off she hoped the conversation had come to an end.

"Oh." Melanie yawned opening the car door and getting out.  She looked at her own parents detached house.  It was so British, but had always been a happy home.  A home purchased years before, thinking they themselves would have lots of children.  As it was they had only been able to have Melanie, and although she knew she was loved beyond imagination she often felt they had never really got over the fact they could have no more.  Especially her mother.  She realised how different she felt coming back as to when she had left.  So much had happened, so much had changed.  She felt like she had really grown up.  She had merely scratched the surface of details of her travels in the car.  She had so much to tell her parents and she wanted to do it in the right way.

"So," Sarah was saying as they walked up the path to their home "Dad and I were thinking we would take you out for dinner tonight, for an Italian actually." Sarah silently congratulated herself, as she unlocked the door and checked Sean was getting the luggage out of the car, on choosing Italian, given how warmly Melanie had gushed about the country.  Mothers intuition she thought.

"Oh, that would have been lovely but I am absolutely shattered." Melanie said cutting Sarah off.

"Oh.  Not to worry darling.  I did say to Dad it would only be if you wanted to."  She was a little disappointed, she thought Melanie would jump at the idea and she had been looking forward to going out for a meal as a family again, but hid it well.  "Would you rather have a takeaway?"  They had moved through into the kitchen of the house.

"Actually, no.  I would love some home cooking."  Sarah felt a surge of love for her daughter.  All those fabulous eateries abroad that she had no doubt frequented, yet it was her mothers cooking she craved.  Sarah hugged her smiling.

"Whatever you want my love.  Anything in particular?"  She moved to the fridge, to check she would be able to rustle up whatever Mel wanted.

"Yes.  Pie, mash and liquor." Melanie said matter-of-factly.  Sarah laughed.

"OK!  Pie, mash and liquor it is."  She could see how tired Melanie was looking now.  And if that was the sort of food she had been indulging in she could see how she had gained a little holiday weight.  Sarah was sure it would fall off of her once she started back with her sports.  She wasn't sure Melanie would fit into half of the designer clothes she had sent back over the course of the summer if she didn't, and knew it would devastate her.

She mentally noted that she needed to pay another lump off of the emergency credit card she had given her daughter before she went away.  She had been aware that Melanie had used it, but had been quite shocked as the bills came in at the end of each month.  Still, as long as she had been having the time of her life, that was all that mattered.  She had been able to pay quite a lot off so far anyway, without Sean being any the wiser.

Melanie had sat down at the breakfast counter and started to work through her mail.  Her face lit up as she came to a few letters, she discarded the rest and grabbed her phone.

"Just going to lay down for a bit mum!" she shouted as she ran out of the kitchen.  She heard her clomp up the stairs and the bedroom open and shut.

"Ahhhh good to have her home eh." Sean said coming into the kitchen. "Need to talk to her about all that luggage though."  Sarah hid the guilty expression on her face and quickly closed the fridge door.

"Mel wants Pie and Mash - I'll have to run to the shops!" she said quickly exiting the kitchen "Won't be long." she called as Sean heard the front door close behind her.

Upstairs, Mel fell onto her bed and breathed in the scent of the freshly laundered sheets.  As much fun as her trip had been there was nothing like your own bed she decided.  Well, unless someone special was sharing it with you, then it didn't matter because you were floating on a cloud.  She giggled childishly.  She rolled onto her back and felt for the letters she had been so happy to see.  She looked at the neat print of her name and address on the envelope.  She ran her hand over it and smiled.  She saw the envelopes were numbered one, two and three.  She opened the first one and immediately smelt his aftershave.  She put the paper to her face, her mind replaying all the special moments they had created together.

She had met Vincenzio, or Vinny as he let her call him, on her second day in Italy.  He was the Sales Assistant in the shoe shop she had stumbled across and never wanted to leave.  Whether it was because of the beautiful shoes or the beautiful boy behind the counter she would never know.  One thing she was certain of, she would never have purchased quite so many shoes if it were not for him.  She had spent hours that afternoon, trying on the shoes and discussing what they could be worn with.  He was great at visualising whole outfits and she couldn't get enough of what he said.  After she had swiped her 'emergency credit card', with a considerable amount of guilt, he had asked her if she was free for dinner that night.

She decided to do the sensible thing and suggested that she and the other two girls she was travelling with meet him and some of his friends later that evening.  Her friends had not minded one bit being taken out by handsome Italian men.  Although they didn't have the same connection as what she and Vinny had it was a fun night.  The girls were much happier to allow Mel to go out on her own with him after spending a long period of time giving him a verbal grilling on that first night.

She saw him every day after that.  Usually in the evening, he took her to every romantic restaurant he could find, they spent hours making love and exploring every inch of each other.  She felt she had never been so utterly consumed by another person.  She wondered if she was in an amazing dream.  Relationships like this didn't happen in real life, did they?

"No." her friends had said "But, you're not in a dream either.  You are a typical 'All I can talk about is my amazing, gorgeous, Italian boyfriend' pain in the backside."  They were only joking with her, and admitted they wished it had happened to them.  The day they were leaving Italy to move on with their travels he had gone with her to the airport where a tearful goodbye was exchanged.  He promised they would speak on the phone and that he would write to her.  Not in an email either, a real, good old fashioned love letter he had told her.

And he had held true to his word.  They had spoken every day on the phone.  Even when she had discovered a few weeks after leaving Italy that she was pregnant.  She hated that she had to tell him on the phone, but he had told her it was all going to be great.  They would be wonderful parents and their child would be beautiful.  He told her that because of the close relationship she had with her parents, he would move to England to be with her and support her while she undertook her University course.  Between them they would make it work.  She hadn't been able to get hold of him yesterday, which was annoying as she had wanted to go over what she was going to say to her parents one last time.  She had hoped that he might have called her already today but mused that he might still think she was not contactable.    

An idea suddenly flew into her head.  What if it was him that was not contactable? Her heart started beating faster.  What if he was on his way to the UK now to surprise her?  To be by her side and support her as she broke the big news to her parents.  Melanie got up, excitement suddenly taking away her tiredness.  She had to shower and find something nice to wear.  She went from one side of the room to the other, not really achieving anything.  She stopped took a deep breath and noticed the letters abandoned on the bed.  She decided to calm down and read them, they might have the details of his flight.

As she read the first she smiled as only the recollection of happy memories can make you.  It had been written after they had spent the night together at the beginning of the relationship.  She was pretty sure that was when she had fallen pregnant too.  It was the only occasion they hadn't used contraception.  It had been so spontaneous and passionate and romantic it hadn't entered into her head.  And now she was glad.  She was so happy to be having the baby of the man she loved.  It was going to be such a fairytale story to tell their son or daughter.  

The second had been written just after she had told him the news of the pregnancy.  It reiterated everything he had told her on the phone.  She ripped open the third, excited anticipation rolling around her stomach, but quickly noticed that it did not smell of his aftershave like the previous two.  It also didn't start with 'Amore Mio' - My Love.  What he always called her.  Her heart once again started to beat a little faster.  As she read, the bottom fell out of her world.

Reading his words she couldn't take it in.  He said now he had the time to think about things, seriously, he wasn't ready to be a father.  That it could never work, they were both so young, with so many ambitions.  He didn't want to give up his life and career in Italy.  "Career!" she spat bitterly "You're a sales assistant!".  He went on to say he had discussed it all with his parents and friends at length and they had made him really think about the commitment having a baby was, especially if she was going to be at University.  He hadn't really thought about the fact that he would be the one at home with the baby and it wasn't what he wanted.  They should realise that what they had experienced for each other was lust and the novelty value of being so mysterious to each other, not love "Not LOVE!" she repeated hardly being able to breath.  She put her hand on her chest as she tried to get air and hot tears started to blur her eyes.  The letter finished with the most hurtful thing she had ever encountered. 
"Do the right thing now Melanie, forget us having the baby, let us both return to our lives and plans and see our relationship for what it was, a holiday romance." 
Melanie sat surrounded by the letters, unmoving, staring at the carpet.  How could someone have such a change of heart from one letter to the next?  The last sentence continued to ring in her ears.  Was he asking her to terminate her pregnancy?  After they had discussed the features their baby might have.  Names.  Personality and characteristics.  That they would teach him or her both English and Italian.  How could he just switch off from that?  

At that moment she heard the front door open and shut.  She heard her parents speaking in the hall - her mother asking where she was.  Her father noting still upstairs, that it had been very quiet.  Her mother saying she would check on her.  She couldn't face her mother, she would know something was wrong the minute she walked in the room.  She dived under the duvet, taking the letters with her, covering her tear stained face and ensured some hair was visible on the pillow.  Hearing the door open she laid still and tried to keep her breathing as rhythmic as possible.  Not easy mid-breakdown.  Her mother only glanced over her and stroked the top of her hair once.

"Goodnight sweetheart." she whispered creeping to close the curtains and back out of the room, shutting the door.  Melanie lay under the duvet crying, with her hand on her abdomen.  On her baby for a long time.  Finally exhaustion really did set in and she fell into a fitful sleep.  It was early morning when she awoke and immediately realised something.  The letter had been set several days previously.  She had spoken to him on the phone numerous times since then.  Her heart dropped even further.  He had kept up the loving pretence to her on phone knowing that he had sent that letter.  Knowing that he was going to abandon her.  He had lied so effortlessly.  She felt as if she had been kicked off of the top of a great cliff top and she was free falling and now she had smashed into the bottom on the rocks.  

She couldn't move.  She couldn't comprehend the situation.  She couldn't...she threw the duvet cover back suddenly consumed by anger.  She wasn't having this.  She snatched up her mobile phone, speed dialling his number.  It went straight to answer phone.  She did this several times before leaving many vicious messages, followed by sobbing ones.  Eventually his mailbox refused to save any more.

Once she had vented her frustration at an automated machine, she came to a realisation.  This was her situation and the day was still dawning.  Time wasn't standing still, as she so desperately wanted it too.  She was 18 and pregnant.  By a man who didn't want to know.  By a man she had known a matter of weeks.  By a man who, other than a mobile number, she had no other contact for.  He had never taken her to his home, they had always stayed in her hotel room.  Short of flying back to Italy and trying to find him at work she didn't know where to start.  And to do that required money, of which she now had virtually none of.  The enormity of the situation started to close in on her and she sudden felt hot.  She needed to get out for some fresh air.  Rummaging in her luggage she found a pair of jeans and jumper, slipping into some flat pumps she didn't even brush her hair.  She opened her door and hurried down the stairs.  As she reached the bottom her mother called out to her from the kitchen.  Startled she turned briefly, locking eyes with her mother for a mere second.

"Melanie?"  Her mother asked quizzically "What's wrong?" concern rising in her voice.  Melanie could not reply.  She ran up the hallway and tried to open the door.  It opened as far as the chain would allow and came to an abrupt holt.  Flustered she shut it and fumbled to slide the metal link across.  "Melanie!" her mother called nearing "Melanie, stop my love."  She turned at hearing the term she associated with Vincenzio "Amore Mio"

"Leave me alone!" Melanie screamed "Just leave me alone!" yanking open the front door she ran out of the house and down the path.  She glanced up the road and saw the young couple her mother had been babbling on about the day before.  The girl was lifting luggage out of the boot of their flashy car whilst the man stood yawning and stretching.  She decided to go the other way and hastily made off along the road with her mother calling desperately after her.  Sean came out of the house shortly behind Sarah and guided her back indoors to the stares of the couple up the road.


Camomile Crescent is an on going series.  For all previous parts please click here.





Friday, 26 October 2012

The Disability Diaries (The Life of J1) : The Holiday - Ahoy Matey

Now we have taken the plunge and booked our Exciting Adventure to Florida next year there is still much researching and planning that is needed.

The flight seat is top priority and I think it has now come to the point where we are going to need to go and view what is on offer to ascertain what is going to be the best option for J1.  At this point in time I have concerns and I hope by going to actually see them they will be quelled.  For anyone wondering why this was not looked at before booking the flight - the answer is - it was.  We saw the picture of the seat insert to the chair and thought wonderful and fantastic.  Then, however, we got further details and it transpires that even though it should go up to a child age 11/12, because of the double hip operations J1 has suffered - which makes his hip width rather large - it will not fit him.  This leaves us with the adult option.  Thus, we need to go and check it out.

After much 'Google Map' time with my mum, I think we are happy that the hotels and areas that we have chosen as our destination are suitable with plenty of things to do for both adults and the children alike.  One of the activities we found is something that my mum has wanted to do for years (kid at heart my mum) - Go on a Pirate Ship.

A Pirate Ship you may ask?  Yes A Pirate Ship.  And at the beach you can do just such a thing.  After looking at the Captain Memo Pirate Ship website we couldn't see any information about whether it was wheelchair accessible.  What we did see however was an email address.  Pinging them an 'Ahoy There!' email outlining J1's accessibility issues in the morning I did not expect such a quick and friendly response.  

The same afternoon I obtained a reply stating that the ship would welcome J1 with open arms.  Was the wheelchair manual or electric, manual is easier to navigate around the ship.  Do not worry, they assured us, the crew is fully trained and can entertain children of all ages and abilities (or disabilities).  They advised us to go on a morning cruise as these tend to be quieter, thus allowing J1 easier movement around desk.  Book a few days in advance and we'll be having our faces painted pirate before we can sing an old sea shanty before you know it!

What a refreshing response this was.  I am so used to hearing, sorry we can not accommodate.  Or parts of the venue will be accessible but not all.  So now we are all really looking forward to this, and we have decided that if we go early enough into our week at the beach, if we love it we can always book and go again a few days later.

Ohhhh-Arrrrrrhhhhh Matey's!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

What Has Made Me Cheerful This Week?

I believe, weeks where you may struggle - for whatever reason be it emotionally, physically, because you are under the weather - whatever, it is all the more important to sit and have a think about the positives that have happened during the week.

I have had a bit of a low spell of late so it has done me good thinking about the good going on in our life.  So linking up with Michelle from 'Mummy from the Heart' here are my 


* The Hubby went for an interview this week and got offered a role.  If he does well in the first few months, fingers crossed, he'll be made permanent by Christmas.  This is a massive relief, and if he does get the go-ahead at Christmas, that will be an even bigger one.

* Another relief for our family is that my sister in law has finally had an operation she has been waiting two years for.  My sister in law suffered with a very rare condition during pregnancy called Gigantomastia (severe hyptrophy of the breasts - basically this meant that from when she fell pregnant her breasts did not stop growing) which left her requiring massive reconstructive surgery.  She has now had the surgery and begins her healing period, hopefully this will be an end to what has been a traumatic and uncomfortable couple of years.

* The weekend of the BUPA Great South Run is almost here.  My parents are looking after the children so that the Hubby and I can go to Portsmouth on our own.  Three child-free nights sleep lie ahead (might be disrupted by The Hubby's snoring but I will have to dig out my ear plugs).  Two nights in a lovely hotel, just the two of us in the lovely old Naval town.  The run is on Sunday (and I believe is being aired on Channel 5) so not only do we get a break but I get to experience a big race too.  We are also hoping to be able to catch up with my cousin in Southampton who just recently got engaged.

* J2, although being a little under the weather this week has been really rather amicable and I have managed to get some writing done.  In fact the next instalment of Camomile Crescent is written which gives me good opportunity to edit and re-work it - almost unheard of.  It has also meant I have been able to get some house work and ironing done here and there which all helps with feeling more in control.

* I have managed to get a date in the diary to see two of the girls (both expecting babies at the end of the year) who I used to work with.  We hardly get to meet up due to work and they live quite a distance from where I do, but with them both going on Maternity Leave soon it has been made possible.  Roll on November.

* J2 and I did some more baking from Jo Wheatley's 'Passion for Baking' book.  We tried out the Oat and Raisin cookies.  All I can say is we had better not make them too often or I am going to be the size of a house because they are so unbelievably delicious.  Even the first batch that I over-baked, although crunchy instead of chewy still have an amazing flavour.  All bow down to Jo.

* I was published as a guest post on the Pregnancy and Parenting website Wriggly Rascals this week.  Click here to see my post about Messy Play.

If you need more inspiration to make you think of your positives, hop over to the Reasons to be Cheerful blog hop.

Kids Playing in Mess - Guest Post for Wriggly Rascals


This is a guest post 'Kids Playing in Mess' for Wriggly Rascals.  Wriggly Rascals was set up by Shona Motherwell, a frustrated mum of twins Mhairi and Archie to get mums together to share pregnancy, baby and toddler advice via quick surveys to get the facts about what other mums do.  Our mums pass on loads of great tips to mums who have asked for help.  If you would like some advice, get in touch at www.wrigglyrascals.com.  You can also find them on twitter @wrigglyrascals.


Our Very Messy Day

The Peppa Pig storage box had been residing on the top of my eldest sons wardrobe for sometime.  Every now and then I would glance at it, remember what was in it and quickly look away.  Occasionally I thought I heard its contents whispering 'Let me out, let me loose!' but I tried to block it out.

Then the day came.  It was hot.  My children were eight and two.  Yes it was time.

The box full of painting paraphernalia was opened...


Read how our day panned out here and take the survey about how you feel about your children playing in mess?  Help other mums decide whether to let their kids pay in the dirt and have some messy play at times.


Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Fast, Fast, Slow

I would say I have a pretty fast paced life.  Actually I think anyone with a young family does.  Although some moments of  'The Toddler - Hood' can feel like it is dragging - namely; spontaneous tantrums in public; sick days; back to back episodes of Peppa Pig; potty training - overall time flies.

Particularly, I feel, when nursery / school get brought into the mix.  Time is broken down into terms; half terms; school week; school day; drop off and pick up times.  Then there are the after school activities to fit into the schedule.  Everything else in life gets chucked into a big pot of 'needs to be done' and in between the fixed schedule times (usually 09:00-15:00) they get randomly plucked from never decreasing mountainous pile of things to do.

I think it is safe to say that the things to be done never really get completed either.  They get worked on for the week and then sent to the bottom of the pile - I mean do you ever see the bottom of your laundry basket or ironing pile?

Then there is dinner.  I heard recently a survey had been carried out whereby parents sited between 17:00-18:00 (noted as 'Dinner Time') as the most stressful time of day.  I would have to agree.  I used to enjoy cooking 'proper' dinner and experimenting with new recipe ideas.  Now it is generally carried out amongst tired and hungry whining of two children, which does not a relaxing ambiance make.  Usually by the time I sit down to eat my own food I am stressed out, hot, flustered and thus not particularly hungry.  All I can say is thank God for a dishwasher.

So, in a world of fast chaos I have heard of a thing called a 'Slow Cooker'.  How have I missed the notion of one of these beauties in the past?  Friends tell me they chuck all the ingredients in at the beginning of the day and by 'Dinner Time' that evening it smells delicious and has cooked itself.  They also tell me that it is virtually impossible to mess up a 'Slow Cooker' recipe.

So my current mission in life.  Purchase a Slow Cooker.  I do not want an expensive one to start with, in case I do not love it as much I think I am going to  Also, given we have almost every other conceivable gadget in our kitchen I do not really have the space to purchase something I won't use.  If I do take to it however, I will look at the potential 'Bad Boys' out there.

Does anyone else use a Slow Cooker?  Would you recommend one?  What are your favourite recipes?



Sunday, 21 October 2012

FICTION : Camomile Crescent - Danielle & Marc

For the previous instalment of 'Danielle and Marc' click here


Danielle strummed her perfect French manicured nails rhythmically on the arm of the sofa.  Her mobile phone sat poised next to her.  She stared into dark depths of the original Victorian fireplace glancing, occasionally, at the screen of her phone.  She knew she wouldn't miss the call, the ringer was set to the loudest it could be, but she couldn't help checking just in case.

She had been sat in the same place for about an hour, dressed immaculately, and ready to go.  She had been unable to sleep.  Marc was due home from his latest business trip to the States and she had never been so anxious to get the call to say she should leave to collect him from the airport.

She had discovered she was pregnant two days earlier.  She had been called for a routine Cervical Screening.  Due to her busy schedule it had been sometime since she had actually booked the appointment and she remembered they would ask her when her last period had been.  She was shocked to see it was about three months previously.  This did not alarm her at first, she had carried her contraceptive pill over a couple of times, due to travelling and busy events for work.  Even so, she did realise that she had taken the break this time, so she should have technically had, or be having her period. 

Again this had not phased her, she conceded that since she had messed with her body clock, quite considerably, it might just be confused and decided to continue with her next packet of contraception, normally, for a couple of months to allow her body to adjust.  The snooty nurse had frowned at her when she explained what had happened.  She had felt herself redden as she was made to feel like a chastised school girl.  The nurse finished her lecture about misuse of the contraceptive pill with words that felt like bullets.

"We had better do a pregnancy test."

"What?  Why?"  Danielle had snapped.

"Just to be sure." the nurse replied wheeling her chair across the floor to a large unit of trays.  Rummaging around in one she produced a wrapped test and small instruction leaflet.

"I'm not pregnant - surely I will be super protected because I haven't had a break."  Danielle tried to quip.

"Better to be safe than sorry.  I am not happy to carry out a screening until you have taken the test or had your next period."  This nurse was no nonsense, Danielle could tell.  She sighed, it had taken multiple changes of bookings to get this appointment fitted in, she couldn't face trying to juggle another one.  She took the test, rolling her eyes. 

"Fine, where do I need to go."  she asked curtly, making a show of straightening her expensive charcoal pencil skirt with her free hand.

"Along the corridor, on the left." the nurse replied not looking up from the forms she was completing.  "I'll leave it up to you if you want to find out the results in private or if you want to come back here and wait." she stated, glancing up as Danielle reached the door.

Danielle smiled tightly "Thanks." she said closing the door "I know what the result will be though." she muttered to herself as she hurried along the dimly lit corridor.  She found the toilet cubicle vacant and locked the door behind her.  She read the instructions, balanced them on the small sink and unwrapped the pregnancy test.  As she sat down to urinate on the tester she decided she actually felt quite affronted by the nurse and the dressing down she had given her.  Next time she would go private she thought, Marc was always saying she was crazy using the NHS when she had private health care at her fingertips. 

Standing up she cursed as she noticed she had wet her own hand as well as the testing stick.  She looked around for somewhere to put it down but found a lack of ledges "Well I am not holding it between my teeth." she griped and it took her several attempts to get it to balance on the sink.  As she flushed, she turned to use the wash basin and knocked it on the floor.  She tutted and soaped her hands.  At least there was a mirror she thought studying her skin and eyebrows.  She felt tired and it was showing.  She was going to start using a night-cream she decided.  Her eyes caught sight of her nails as she moved them over her cheeks.  She would ring her beauty therapist and ask for an early morning appointment for before she started work.  She would book in for a full body massage at the weekend as well, maybe Marc would even want one with her she considered.  Yes, a complete relaxation weekend for just the two of them was in order.

The thought of Marc made her smile.  He had been away for several weeks but he would be home in a few days.  She had suggested the idea of a holiday to him and he had said they could discuss it when he returned.  She was hoping that they might be able to take a longer break than normal and perhaps try one of the Caribbean islands.  Really splash out.  She could not wait to sink her bare feet into some hot, white sand rather than uncomfortable designer shoes.  As she was daydreaming, she realised that the few minutes needed for the test develop must have passed.  She bent down and picked the test up off of the floor.

Flicking her hair back she turned the test over.  Two lines clearly stared back at her.  She felt panic rising.  "OK" she mumbled "Is two lines positive or negative?" she thought she knew but she had to be wrong, she had only read the instructions briefly she reassured herself.  Grabbing them up out of the wet sink she scanned the small black print:


The tester will show one blue line as a test line.  This indicates that the tester is working.  If you see a second blue line, this indicates a positive result.  If only the test line is visable, the test is negative.


Danielle suddenly felt hot and sat heavily on the lid of the toilet.  Two lines was a positive result?  She looked again at the tester.  Well, it was certainly showing two.  There was no mistaking that.  She looked away quickly, like if she couldn't see it, then it wouldn't be true.  She sat trying to think of any possible way she could have fallen pregnant.  Marc had hardly been here for the last six months so it was damn well against the odds of happening she thought bitterly. 

She wasn't sure how long she had been sitting on the toilet, but she suddenly realised she needed to return to the nurses room.  She stood and glanced in the mirror.  She couldn't remove the pale, ashen look she now sported.  Taking a deep breath she unlocked the door and found her nurse waiting patiently outside.  Seeing her, she burst into tears.  The nurse put her arm around her and guided her back to the privacy of the medical room.

Together they had tried to guess how far along she was.  Danielle had recalled the week when she had severe food poisoning and how sick she had been.  Despite this Marc had been going away on business and had made quite a show when she had said she wasn't sure she felt up to their usual goodbye sex session.  As he had stomped about upstairs she had felt guilty and given in, after all she would regret it in a few days when she was feeling better she was sure.

The nurse had suggested that this was mostly likely when it happened.  She informed Danielle that vomiting could reduce the effectiveness of the contraceptive pill.  She had noted that the instructions, available in every packet, clearly stated that in the case of illness other forms of contraception should be used.  At seeing Danielles face crumple again she said it was surprising at how many women was not aware of this.  The nurse had given Danielle some literature about all the options available. 

"I know what I need to do."  Danielle started.  The nurse put up her hand.

"Danielle, you need to go home and think about things.  Talk to your partner.  Really give the situation some thought."  Danielle nodded but knew there would be no discussion needed on the matter.  Marc would pay for her to go private so she could get things sorted quickly she presumed.

After thanking the nurse, she left the surgery and been surprised to find it was dark outside.  She had not realised how long she had been in the surgery.  She drove her bright red sporty two-seater home without her mind on the road.  When she pulled up outside 19 Camomile Crescent she couldn't remember the journey.  She decided the sooner this was sorted the better. 

The next day she had gone for her early nail appointment and been so busy at work she didn't have time to think about it all.  At least now she knew what was making her feel under par and she wouldn't be feeling like it for much longer.  She would be back on top form at work and maybe have the energy to stamp on a few of those back stabbing colleagues who were not on her side when she needed them lately. 

On the other hand the thought of having to go into medical institution made her feel extra sick.  As it was now.  Sat at home waiting for Marc to call.  She wasn't looking forward to telling him she had messed up with the contraception.  He would be tired and ratty from his long day, followed by the flight.  She hoped everything had gone smoothly, otherwise she might not even be able to talk to him about it until tomorrow.

At that moment her mobile belted out its all too familiar ring tone.  Marc.  She picked it up and took a deep breath "Hi!" she answered enthusiastically "Great!  OK, can't wait to see you!  Love you! Be there soon!"  She ended the call and realised she was shaking.  Had she been too perky?  Had she covered the news of 'I am pregnant with your child.' sufficiently? 

She shook her head, he would have been too preoccupied with getting off of the flight to have noticed anything, they only spoke for a matter of seconds.  If she wasn't driving she would have made herself a drink to calm her down a bit.  Even though it was only 7am.  It wasn't all bad nerves she decided, there was the excited anticipation of seeing the man she loved after weeks apart mixed in. 

She slipped her black patent four inch heels back on, wincing slightly.  She grabbed her car key from the 'key bowl' in the hallway.  Then she remembered herself and swapped it for Marc's.  He had a new swanky four door Saloon.  As she never knew if he was bringing anything back from his apartment in New York she thought it was for the best.  He was so annoyed with her last time as they had to try and cram everything in the tiny space her car afforded.

She hoped he was in a better mood than on that occasion.

It didn't take her long to reach the airport and as it was still early she navigated her way to the pick up area quickly.  She got out of the car, her stomach more swirling than ever, and took a deep breath of fresh air to try and help with the nausea.  She soon saw the familiar shape of Marc making his way to the automatic doors and she scurried over to greet him.  He was still wearing his suit and shirt from his day at the New York office and she thought he looked tired, but swarve.  If they had decided to have children she would have hoped they would have his height and jet black hair - not that it was ever going to happen.  They had made that decision early on in the relationship. 

Danielle threw her arms around his waist and sunk her head into his chest, taking in the familiar aftershave.  She had missed him.  He held her tight and kissed the top of her head as she clung on tight.  She looked up to him.

"I am so glad you are home."

"Me too."  He replied "I need a decent cup of tea."  Danielle laughed.  She was sure when he got to the States he said the same about coffee.  They made there way to the car.  "I'll drive if you want." he said as he watched Danielle open the boot and struggle to put his luggage in.  She stuttered, worried that if she was a passenger the car would make her even more sick.  She needed something to keep her mind focused.

"No, no." she interjected "You've had a long day."  He shrugged yawning and opened the passenger door.

"Whatever you want sweetheart."  Danielle decided to tell him as soon as they set off, she wanted to get it over with and then when they got home he could cuddle her in bed and tell her it was all going to be OK.  She didn't mind if they spent the whole of Saturday having a duvet day.

"So, we need to talk about," she paused, toying with how to word it "some things."

"Yeah," Marc replied settling his seat back and closing his eyes "I've got a mad schedule coming up that I need to go through with you.  I don't think I will be able to fit a holiday in at the moment."  Danielle deflated, she had hoped he might be around for a couple of weeks, she was going to need him.  And a holiday.  "I've got to go off to Ireland for a couple of days tomorrow." He continued "Then I will be back for a day, maybe two, then back to the States for a couple of weeks."

"Again!"  Danielle startled.  She hadn't meant for her reaction to slip out, but he was in the UK less and less.  Marc opened his eyes and looked at her.

"Sorry Danielle, you know how it is.  The US Client needs me in person and things are really picking up out there."  She sighed. 

"I know.  I would just like you here a bit more."  He moved his hand across to her leg and rubbed it gently "Just be grateful for what we do have.  Remember we are doing all of this work now for a better life in the future.  When we are in our forties life will be one long holiday."  She was getting a little sick of hearing the same statement but turned and forced a smile.

"So," she began again "We need to talk about something."  Marc had laid back again.

"Hmmmm" he replied.

"I, er, I.  I found something out while you were away."

"Hmmmm" he responded again

"I'm pregnant." she kept her focus on the road and could feel Marc had frozen.  He sat up, pulling the chair back into a sitting position.

"What the..." he began. 

"I know."  Danielle cut in "I was stunned too.  I went for my cervical screening, the nurse insisted I do a test and Bam, it came up positive!" she was talking too fast, she knew.

"I've barely been here Danielle." She didn't like his tone so explained about the contraceptive loophole after stomach sickness. 

"Have you booked in to deal with it?" he asked her in a tone usually directed at his Personal Assistant. 

"Not yet, I wanted to tell you first." Danielle started but was cut off.

"Well, you better do it first thing in the morning.  Go private, they'll be able to do it straight away.  Pay whatever you need."  Although she knew that would be their decision she was taken aback by his frank attitude.  She opened her mouth but nothing came out.  "Hopefully it'll be done by the time I get back from Ireland eh."  He leaned the chair back again, crossing his arms over his chest and closing his eyes. 

Danielle continued to look ahead feeling irked that he hadn't even asked how she was feeling.  Especially when he knew she had such a fear of anything medically related.  She wanted him to be there to support her.  She wouldn't be able to go on her own and she really did not want to have to tell her Mother.  She would have to call Emily, one of her oldest friends and see if she could stand in.  On the other hand, Danielle mused, he had actually taken the news better than she had anticipated and hadn't gone on a rant which finalised with laying the blame at her door.

As they pulled up outside of their house, Danielle realised how tired she felt and was looking forward to falling into bed.  They paused at the door to unlock it.  As they fiddled with the keys a disturbance along the road caught their eye.  One of their neighbours, Danielle believed the females name was Sarah, was shouting at a young women who was walking rapidly away from her.  A large man came out of the house and ushered her back in.

"A domestic argument - on Cam Crescent?"  Marc said sarcastically "I didn't think that sort of behaviour was allowed."  He sniggered at his own joke as Danielle finally got all the locks open.  As they entered their immaculate Victorian home, Marc did what he always did "Make us a decent cuppa darling will you?"  Danielle kicked her heels off.  Nothing changes, she thought.  Although that wasn't a bad thing, she didn't want it to.

"Course, I'll bring it up."  She watched him disappear up the stairs.  She entered the kitchen flipping the kettle switch.  That was the first time she started to feel a small amount of cramping in her lower abdomen.  It wasn't unbearable but it wasn't comfortable.  She had been in desperate need of the toilet since she had arrived at the airport so went to the bathroom hoping it would relieve it.  As she heard the kettle whistle, she stood and thought she noticed a little pink discolouring.  Her heart started to beat a little quicker.

"Are you getting the tea from China?" she heard Marc call.  She used another piece of tissue but found nothing.  She frowned.  "Danielle?" she heard him call. 

"Coming!" she replied.  She had to get that appointment booked in, she needed her life to go back to normal.

All previous instalments of Camomile Crescent can be found on my Fiction Page.


         

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Low Patch

I appear to be having one.  A low patch that is.  I have been perfectly fine, enjoying the brisk Autumn weather and getting lots done and then BANG.  It has like the Motivation Monster has been in the middle of the night and sucked it all out of me.

People say that is often the case after you have had a good couple of weeks.  Or a great event.  This is most annoying.  I hate that I do not seem to have any control over it.  I can't do anymore than I already am to keep myself upbeat.  All the other factors in life at the moment are not in my control.  Most of the time I can separate stressful things and by taking them individually deal with it.  But sometimes things raise their heads all at once, screaming 'Me first!  Me first!' and it feels like I am drowning.

Now going on past experience these phases, thankfully, only seem to last a couple of days, but they feel like an eternal stretch to me.  When, to keep up with life as it is at the moment - with a young family - I need to be tip top all the time just to keep our head above the water.  As my blog title was created to represent - to keep sailing along smoothly on our lake of life, my feet are paddling like crazy underneath.

A lack of sleep never helps, and I have to remind myself that I haven't had a long period of solid nights sleeps for almost nine years.  Sometimes I have to remind myself that our plate is slighter fuller than a lot of peoples and life is not as straight forward for me and my family.  Sometimes I have to remember to give myself a break if the house isn't as straight as I would like, if I am not keeping up with everything I would like to keep up with. 

Sometimes it's o.k not to keep up.  As long as you don't give up.



Thursday, 18 October 2012

What Has Made Me Cheerful This Week

It was my intention to do lots of writing this week, posts and otherwise but unfortunately I have had no time to do so - best laid plans and all that.  However, no time like the present and I like to think about the positives of my week, even if it is the only thing I get to blog about.
 
This week Reasons to be Cheerful is being hosted by Becky at Lakes Single Mum so hop on over to see her if you want to read posts from other cheerful souls.
 
After another week has sped past in the blur of an eye, these are my reasons to be cheerful :
 
* Pregnant friend number two has delivered a little boy safe and well.  The fabulous couple now have a daughter and son and are very happy.

* My brother and his wife were part of a wedding party at the weekend so I got to spend time with my beautiful nephew SJ.  It was extra special this time because it is the first time J2 and SJ have really played together nicely.  I think SJ has been too little before now so to see them interacting was great.

* I have seen two of my best friends this week.  Monday was spent hunting for Halloween costumes and having lovely coffee and cake with Mrs B-R and today was spent visiting one of my oldest school friends and her baby boy JK and discussing (very excitedly) wedding plans.  Thrilled that I will be Bridesmaid for her next year and we booked a date in our diaries for her to go dress shopping.
 
* Hubby had his tummy assessment.  Although it isn't great that he is having the issues he is having it is good that they are being taken seriously and investigated.  The horrible part is now out of the way and we just have to wait for the results.
 
* I had two treats this week.  The first was a long overdue hair appointment.  It was lovely sitting in one place for more than 10 seconds, being brought coffee, biscuits and magazines.  The second was a surprise from the Hubby - a copy of the new Masterchef Food Bible.  Just having the page of weights / measurements etc in the front is worth its weight in gold.
 
* Even though I can feel a cold starting to break out I am happy it is this week and not next, when the Hubby and I have a night away in Portsmouth so I can participate in The Great South Run.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

What Has Made Me Cheerful This Week

A busy week has meant that I am a little later than normal thinking about the positives of our week.  But of course that has meant there has been a multitude of items to choose from. 
 
Reasons to be Cheerful is this week being hosted by the wonderful Mama Owl as Mummy from the Heart is with ONE Mums in Ethiopia - so if your week needs shouting about join in the blog hop with her.
 
This week this is what has made me cheerful :
 
* I am amongst a multitude of pregnant ladies at the moment and this week one arrived safe and well.  Mummy, Daddy, Big Sister and Baby Girl J.A are all doing well and I can not wait to go Baby Girl clothes shopping (any opportunity when you live in a house of boys).
 
* J2 and I had a lovely trip to our local Zoo (Gold Cards were definitely worth it) with one of my oldest friends from school, his sister and her son for whom we were celebrating his second birthday.  Many laughs were had and the boys played so well together.  They were both asleep before we left the car park at the end of the day.
 
* We had a wonderful piece of post arrive saying that we can get a power pack for J1's wheelchair.  This will make a huge difference and make our sea front walks possible again and Zoo trips available even when it can only be mum and I that can go.  This opens up a lot of opportunities to get J1 out and about more.
 
* We attended a wonderful Harvest Festival service with J1's school.  A sure sign of Autumn.
 
* I submitted a piece of writing to a very positive response and have been asked for another.  I have also been asked to guest post for a parenting website, all very exciting.
 
* Potty training is continuing with J2 and this week has been more good days than bad.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

The Disability Diaries (The Life of J1) : A Very 'Special Needs' Harvest Festival

I have noted on many occasions how highly I think of my eldest Sons, J1, school.  I believe his time at the school has enhanced his life in almost every way possible.  It is the school, I maintain, that turned him from saying two words into a chatterbox.  It is the school that has helped him to develop a wonderful sense of humour.  It is the school that has made him accepting of other children his age, instead of being afraid of them.

For those who have no experience of being involved with a Special Needs school, they may think it would be very different to a mainstream school.  In lots of way it is.  Along with the teachers there is a much higher ratio of 'teaching assistants' in each class.  The school is usually also host to a lot of 'Ists' on a daily basis.  For example, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists, Music Therapists.  Outside of the classroom is an array of equipment; wheelchairs, standing frames, walking frames; mobile hoists; wedges.  There is usually a few people fixing and adjusting those pieces of kit. 

Instead of classes being host to a tiny cubicle with small toilet and sink they are built with a large 'changing place' and along with the more able-bodied childrens facility there is also a hoist, a changing bench and storage unit to hold all the individual supplies of pads.  There are an array of sensory rooms, soft rooms, quiet rooms - places children with the need for their own space can go and feel calm.  There is a full time on-site nurse to help ensure that all medication and intravenous 'food and drink' is administered correctly.

In the playground you will find all the usual items but in addition to this you will find a roundabout and swing that a wheelchair can be fixed onto.  A sensory garden with wind chimes and colour-makers.

However, in the midst of all these 'differences' many things are the same.  The school day starts at 09:00 and ends at 15:00.  They have morning break time and lunch time in the big hall.  They have Assembly on a Friday afternoon.  They have a school curriculum to work through, parent / teacher evenings, end of year reports and an Annual Awards Ceremony.

I did not know what to expect when J1 started.  I suppose I expected that he would be 'learning' a little in addition to his physical needs for Physiotherapy etc.  I did not expect him to be learning as much as he is - shame on me for not realising my sons capabilities and thank God for the school that they did! 

What I did not expect was that the children would participate in all the things I did at school.  I suppose I thought what with providing education as any school would and attending to all the extra needs of the children, they would have the time.  How wrong was I. 
 
Every year we attend the Christmas Fair, with many stalls being full of things the classes have made themselves.  It never fails to amaze me how they manage it.  We go along and are moved by the Christmas Play, with each class having their own starring moment.  Fundraisers are held each term, this one was a sponsored walk.  The entire school participates.  They have field trips regularly and a whole school outing in the Summer.  No child misses out, unless the parent feels it is necessary.  How a school does this, when catering for such a wide range of Special Needs is, in my opinion, pretty amazing.
 
One of my favourite school events however is Harvest Festival.  I think because I used to enjoy it myself.  It was exciting to go out to a different venue and sing with the school and perform whatever our class was doing.  Each year the local church opens its doors for our children.  We are treated to readings, songs, dancing and a reminder that we really should be grateful for the abundance of food we have available to us.
 
I think it is one of those triggers that it really is Autumn and I have already posted about how much I love Autumn.  It is also beautiful to see all the pupils doing something that every other school does, no matter what their disability.  It is a heart warming sight of inclusiveness that I am blessed and thankful for witnessing.