Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Grooving my way through February - How did I get on?

Frankly I am not getting on as well as I was in January, and refer to my blog post F is For ... February, Frustrating and Freezing for more details on that!  However, as we draw to the end of F-F-February I thought I had better face up to my poor show (I am all for the good, but just as much admitting the bad and ugly) and take stock of what I need to improve on in March. 

So for inspiration to get my groove back on track I am going to be linking up with Kate on Thin Ice and the Grooving Mum's initiative, because like Kate says, nothing like asking other bloggers to give you a kick up the backside, in a nice, positive way of course.

My aims for February were :


- Be more vigilant with J1's home physiotherapy, even though he complains

OK, this one has been achieved because there was no wiggle room.  More vigilant day to day physiotherapy has been incorporated into our routine (with complaining no less) and I have also kept up my badgering the school to ensure he gets all physio / massage / floor work time he should do whilst at school.  So big gold star on this one.  Alas, I think this will be the only one, but it was the most important.

- Start weekly swim sessions with J2 again

Illness / Viruses / Bugs and most recently Mumps has seen this one off.  So swim bag is still packed and ready to go, once J2's neck resumes to normal size.

- Do house filing once a month and keep on top of it all

Can you hear laughter where you are?  Yes, that is me.  Obviously moving this one onto March...


- Start notes on book idea

Well in fairness I did get down the initial stuff that I wanted to but haven't progressed further but I wasn't expecting to either.  I have also purchased a guide to help with novel writing and understanding publishing.  Baby steps.

- Continue to try and make an effort with my appearance as it is making me feel better

I would say this is being achieve 60% of the time.  If I can get my hair washed and straightened, it is much more likely to occur.  And days I am indoors for the duration it is a pleasure to have 'comfy clothes' days as well.

- Treat self to a spa afternoon once every 3 months

As I suspected back in January, this has made it to the 3rd month but as it is a once every 3 month item, still not failed as yet...

One item that should have also been on the 2012 plan was to see and catch up with friends more.  I am pleased to say that this has been and is in the pipeline to happen.  I have made a concerted effort to get dates in the diary, and due to various baby arrivals I have got numerous baby showers and 'first visits for a cuddle' to attend.  It is easy to forget how brilliant you feel after seeing 'other walking, talking adults' that are not the parentals or husband every now and then!

Now to start thinking about what the aims for March are going to be...

Friday, 24 February 2012

Monthly Feature : Marvellous Mum

This is the first post for my new monthly feature called 'Marvellous Mum' where I give a Marvellous Mummy a chance to tell us why she loves being Mum and why she loves her lifestyle.  Over the months we will talk to Mum's who stay - at - home, work from home, work full time / part time, Mum's who care for disabled children / children with special needs, Single Mum's, First time mums, Mums of Premature Babies, Mums that have battled with illnesses themselves etc.

My first 'Marvellous Mummy' is a first time Mum, a part time working Mum, a Photographer Mum and an Etsy Shop owner!  She is the Fabulous Kelly-Marie Venamore.  I met Kelly through the world of blogging about six months ago.  Back then she was Kelly Marie Bareham, but of course the lovely lass was snapped up off the market and she married Matt just last year.

Here she tell's us why she loves her life!

Tell us a little bit about your family?

Well as you know I am Kelly-Marie and I am married to my lovely Matthew and mummy to my amazing little boy Joshua and together we are totally in love. We live in the UK in a small cottage house.

What is the best part about working part time and being a mum?

I absolutly LOVE being a mum but let's face it, if I was talking baby talk and cleaning stinky nappies 24/7 I would go crazy! I work just across the road in a small Post Office 2 days a week so it's not like I am far away, and I love to talk to all my regular customers.

What is the worst part about working part time and being a mum?  Are there any particular struggles you face?

It can be kinda hard when Matt is called in for overtime, as he either has to let them down or swap my shift. Other then that it's great being able to go out and work a little.

Is your household laid back or manic?

It's pretty laid-back in our house as it's just the three of us and plus I am an extremly laid back person anyway and so is Matt. Josh is such a good boy and is hardly ever a problem; such a happy baby, obviously he has his moments of craziness espesailly when a new tooth comes through.

What is your favourite type of day (e.g PJ day / Out all day etc)?

A day when Matthew and I are both off work and it's nice enough to go out, they are well and truly the best days as they come rare around here.

What are the top three things that being a mum has taught you?

Sleep - It's amazing how much lack of sleep a mummy can survive on.
Patience - Josh is a pain to get dressed due to all the wiggling, and takes his sweet old time eating breakfast.
Love - I never realised how much I could love one little man.

Would you change anything in your life right now?

NEVER .. I may not have much money but I am rich in love for my two guys.

List three things that you would like to achieve this year?

1. Pass my driving test, so we can have more of those perfect days out together.
2. Move house, the house we are in at the moment is fine but I would like somethign a bit more modern with a nice little garden and maybe an extra bedroom for when we decide to start trying for baby number 2.
3. Save up and book our holiday to Cyprus next year :D  It will be my first holiday in 10 years !

In a short summary, tell us why it is Marvellous being a Mummy?

You can find out more about Kelly via her fantastic blog 'Our Footprints on the World' you can also contact Kelly on :

Email :
Blog :

JOSHUA ! ! - that is all :)

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Dear Baby Boy - As You Approach 2

Dear J2

February 2012

At this point of the year, in 2010, I thought my stomach was stretched to it's maximum capacity, that my bladder had been reduced to the size of a ten pence piece and was reminded that any sleep was now a thing of the past - well at least for a couple of years.

Yes, I was in my 8th month of pregnancy with you, J2, and although it had been a little anxious at times I had thankfully made it to 36 weeks and a much safer 'delivery period' than during pregnancy number one.  All this 'big belly - no bladder' phase was new and exciting to me.

You continued to happily stay put for a further two weeks, in the photographs of Grandad's 60th Birthday, you are the bump in the pictures.  You finally decided to say hello at 20.02 on Monday 8 March 2010 and weighed in at 7lb 1oz, with a head of fiery red hair, which you have retained so far.

Fast forward 2 whole years to 2012, the year of the London Olympics - a mammoth thing for our country.  And the year of your second birthday.  This to us is just as mammoth.  Every year that you and your brother celebrate another birthday, happy and healthy we count our blessings and appreciate how lucky we are.

Before I had children I didn't really understand why people worried about having parties and making a big deal out of babies birthdays.  I used to think 'The child isn't going to remember it, why go to all that effort?'.  But I soon learnt, those early years are precious, they go quickly and are fast paced with change, so every moment should be celebrated.  That, and babies and toddlers generally have no fear, so the fact that as a parent you have managed to get your child to another birthday unscathed deserves celebration!

Of course for your first birthday we decorated in '1st Birthday Boy' attire.  This year however, you are old enough to start to have opinions on things you like.  Your favourite theme at the moment is a close call between Peppa Pig and Stars.  As I want to attempt to make your birthday cake this year though, we are going for a Star Theme, this I am hoping will be easier to try and bake and decorate than Peppa or George this space...

A Star 'Tea' Party is what we are planning, with a spread of all goodies of cakes and biscuits and chocolates and pick 'n' mix, the usual mix of family and friends are on the invite list.  Although, by the time you are reading this, you probably won't have any recollection of this birthday, you will be familiar with it by the copious amounts of photographs I am likely to take (the power of the digital camera enlightens your era).

So those are our plans, it's now time to summarise a wonderful, happy, if sometimes a little challenging year of J2...

By the end of March 2011, you had progressed from walking holding the hands of any adult to completely independently, and believe you me, there was no stopping you.

In April 2011 you started to go to Nursery for one afternoon a week.  There was only a few weeks of tears and before long when I dropped you off I didn't even get a backwards glance, too much fun to be had.

In June 2011 we went on holiday to Centre Parcs and you would have spent every available second in the swimming pool if you had the chance, a real water baby, although when you were smaller we wasn't sure you would be, you certainly are now.

During the summer months of July, August and September we discovered that you adored the beach, the sand and water, and living by the seaside - very handy.

In October, you started to verbalise words other than Mumma / Mummeeeeeee.  Also with your mobility and ability to point we started to be able to have actual two way conversations of sorts.

In December we moved, from the house you came home to when you were born to a new abode.  It gave us more space and you loved having the ability to charge around, although sometimes this proved to be a little hair-raising for us.  You also changed Nurseries and seem to like the new one even more.  You threw yourself into Christmas like a real toddler (i.e playing with the wrapping and boxes more than the toys).

January blighted us with coughs and colds and bugs, yuk.

February saw your first proper experience with Snow (Noooooooooooo as you so sweetly shouted up the window).  And you started to say Milky / Jakey / Jack / Georgie Cat / Peppa Pig & George as well as beginning to put words together.  You also started to watch a whole episode of Peppa Pig, independently and asking for stories to be read.  Your favourites being Peace at Last and The Red School Bus.

So a very packed out, milestone achieving and fun year.  We are all looking forward to watching you grow this year from a toddler, to the age of 3 and turning into a 'boy' rather than just 'baby'.  I am sure you will make beautiful memories for recording down in next years letter.

Happy Birthday (very soon) Dear Sweet J2.

Love Mummy.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

F is for ... February, Frustrating and Freezing

I haven't done a 'Wordy Wednesday' for a while, so thought I would try and get back in the groove of having a bit more structure to my blog posting again, as for reasons of 'living life and what it throws at you' they have become a bit hit and miss of late.  I was pleased to be able to get a Disability Diaries post out last week so making baby steps on the right track.

The introduction to this blog post really leads in quite well to the point of it.  For reasons beyond the control of the mere human that I am, since November things have been moving a three hundred miles an hour around our lives and there has been little time for sitting and pondering and physically being able to pull blog posts together. 

November saw us house hunting, December saw us move which lead straight into a very busy, but amazing Christmas and New Year.  January and sadly through to February, we have all been blighted with viruses and weeks of being under the weather (and we know, unwell children means you are even busier as they can't go to school / nursery and my two become super clingy) plus, The Hubby had another stint in hospital. 

Many people struggle with February.  It is still the depths of winter, it's usually still dark and gloomy, it feels like it has been like this for a long time and the fact that spring is still a whole month away can feel pretty depressing.  On top of that, if we are honest, February usually sees us all still pretty broke, just when a spend up might be one way to lift us out of the low mood.

However, I have not suffered with that for the last few years.  I put this down to being a stay - home - mum.  Months are not particularly that clear cut and just in general I have been a lot happier being at home with the children.  If it's cold outside, aside from the school run, it is my choice if I have to go out, or if we stay cozied up indoors.  In 2010 I was pleased we had reached February as it meant the arrival of J2 was pulling closer, and last year it was packed full of last minute 60th birthday planning for my Dad, 1st birthday planning for J2 and Wedding Planning for the Hubby and I!

So this year the approach of February did not phase me too much.  However, it's been a bit of a stinker to be honest.  I thought January was a bit of struggle, due to the aforementioned continuous plague of bugs / viruses / colds / coughs etc.  But the fact this has continued into February and throughout - thus postponing almost anything planned is just damn frustrating now.  The lack of attendance for the kids at school and nursery has a knock on effect for getting anything else done and this is now starting to get to me. 

Add to this the start of February flourished our country in snow and an extreme cold snap was not great fun either, it was quite literally freezing and our big old house, although had been really quite good up to then, the fact that it has original windows (drafty) and old doors (drafty) and an old roof (part collapsed with the snow so, drafty) couldn't stand up to the minus temperatures to the balmy degree's that I like to be honoured with indoors (yes I would relocate to Florida if given the chance!).

However, this is not a negative post, that's not my style.  Yesterday, after dropping J1 at school, I made the journey across to the shops with J2 in tow.  This is always a nail biting time.  J2, at present, will either be an angel or complete nightmare so I try and keep necessary visits short, sharp and to the point, in the hope we are in and out before 'meltdown city' occurs.  Yesterday, he was an angel (phew, a bag of buttons for once worked a treat - for some reason J2 can not usually be bribed with sweets), team that with the beautiful blue sky and sunshine and positively mild temperature, spirits started to pick up.

So yes, although we are in February and it has been cold, dark and germ frenzied, we have to remember that F is also for Fight (ie. Fighting Spirit) that at over the half way point of Freezing, Frustrating February, we are now seeing longer, lighter, warmer days and we can only hope health wise we are all on the mend and we can resume seeing other friends and family and getting out and about with energy and minus the need for a pharmaceutical filled back pack.

And if all of that starts to happen, we might start to get some better nights sleep, which is always a good pick me up, whatever the time of year.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

The Disability Diaries (The Life of J1) : We Just Don't Know?

We received J1's diagnosis (Diagnosis Day - Or Finding Out By Accident) when he was just over a year old.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  A flurry of activity through my post box started to occur, appointments for this, referral letters for that.  Most of the early appointments were investigative, to try and establish the extent of the damage that had happened to J1's brain.

Cerebral Palsy is massively wide and a broad spectrum in terms of consequences, but the long and short is it means 'Brain Damage'.  My son had suffered brain damage.  It has taken me years to be able to say those words; 'My son has Cerebral Palsy'; 'My son will never walk'; 'My son can't sit'.  When I first knew, I would sit on my sofa for hours taking a deep breath and attempt to say those words.  But they wouldn't come.  Only tears would materialise, as the words 'Brain Damage', 'Cerebral Palsy', 'Can't', 'Extent of the damage...' would roll around in my mind, confusing me, threatening to drown me in negativity.

I knew that I was going to have to learn to be able to say it, because I was going to have to tell people.  Work for example.  But even if I could get those words out, I knew that they would be followed up by questions.  Questions, questions, questions.  Questions that I did not have the answers too; 'How bad is it?', 'What effect will it have on him?', 'What have you got to do?'.  All perfectly predictable and reasonable questions but my answer could only be 'I don't know.'

And that was the answer that I came to hear a lot 'We just don't know.'  My questions were those that I was asked myself by others, yet I was only just in the stage of questioning the very same things.  In answer to 'How bad is it?' I was told post-MRI scan, that the damaged area was about the size of a thumb print, quite dark in colour and on the left hand side of the brain, the size and shape and colour indicated (although nothing is ever fully confirmed) that it most likely occurred during the last hour of the birth.  Really that is probably the most concrete information I have ever been able to glean.  The questions like 'What effect will it have on him?', 'What is the extent of the damage consequences?', 'Will he be able to eat / talk / walk / sit?' were all answered by blank expression of 'We'll just have to wait and see.'. 

The old saying 'Only Time Will Tell' became poignant in our lives.  As J1 was only just a year old it was difficult to even begin to comprehend what difficulties he may face.  We understood that it was looking unlikely that J1 would be mobile, he appeared to have absolutely no trunk / torso control, but you can't imagine the implications and challenges (over and above the 'He will need a wheelchair' and the obvious ones you hit, access etc) that we would find ourselves facing a few years on. 

However, because J1 was so young, to those who didn't know it was easy for them not too.  When we went out, he was small enough to still be transported in his normal baby car seat (reclined as far back as possible) and his buggy.  If we went places to eat I would take the Baby Bouncer to seat him in rather than be offered the use of a high chair.  In a way, it gave us a slower pace at which we had to come to terms with the diagnosis.

But of course children grow and it soon started to become clear that J1 was going to have massive physical disabilities, but by then we were into a routine of our new life, we did know that we could improve J1's head and neck control with lots of simple baby-friendly physiotherapy.  That we could start to work on re-training the messages from J1's brain to his arms to try and entice them out of the classic tight curled up position to encourage him to learn to grasp and hold things.

With baby-steps we entered the path of the unknown and learnt that you can still work on areas where you 'just don't know' if you can think positive and focus on can rather than can't.  Knowing and understanding the condition and accepting it was the first step to helping J1 to achieve the very best that he can.  It also meant that I had to start focusing on 'Occupational Therapy' that J1 would need rather than just 'Physiotherapy' and that would turn out to be one of the biggest battles of all.  Like most things for someone with disabilities as severe as J1's it would be an extra challenge, creating frustration and anger and needing a whole lot of strength to succeed.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Five Things I Still REALLY Want To Do

Having had a couple of days enjoying the pleasure that is Central Heating and one of the [many] perks of the full time job of SAH Motherhood, i.e not having to leave the house to start work in the ice and snow, I have been thinking about all the things I have done, that I perhaps I didn't think I ever would or could.  That is instead of thinking about all the things that I wanted to be out and about doing but couldn't because in the new abode I was kind of snowed in.

I have the worst sense of direction for example, therefore I hate driving anywhere I do not know the route too and if I do, I generally try and get someone else to drive, or at least someone else to come with me to navigate.  A good friend of mine was getting married in the Lake District a few years back and I had looked forward to going to the wedding for months, despite the fear that I had to drive because I had a friend attending with me.  Two days before the wedding, the friend announced that they 'could not afford' to attend.  Dilemma.  I had to get to the Lake District.  I had to drive.  The wedding was on a Friday so I knew it was going to be almost impossible to find any other friends that would be available, the choice was, get over my fear and drive it or not go.

With my bag already packed and a new Karen Millen dress hanging and longing to be worn on my door, I decided to put all my favourite songs onto some tapes (yes, my little Fiesta was the kind with a TAPE player!), stock the car with snacks and drinks and blue tack my directions on to the dashboard.  With my mum calling 'Make sure you have plenty of stops!' as I drove away, I set off on my adventure.  I drove to the Lake District and back on my own and survived and for that I am still proud.

I learnt to snowboard.  I ventured passed the green slopes and on to the blue and even survived accidentally heading off on a red.  I went on two snowboarding holidays despite on my third lesson when learning in the UK  breaking my wrist in two places and dislocating my thumb.  I hate the cold and snow in general (would live in Florida if I could!) but managed to achieve something I didn't think I would ever do (note : snowboarding kit has now been sold but been there, done that).

I ran a Marathon.  In 2005 I ran 26.2 miles of the good London soil of Blighty.  When I initially took the challenge on I made all the right confident noises, writing lots of plans and reading lots of literature and setting up fundraisers, but I did wonder if I had the staying power to actually get my fitness levels up to run 26 miles.  But I did it.  I have the medal and my photos hanging proudly on the chimney breast upstairs in our home.  This is one that still hasn't really ever sunk in that I achieved.

I sometimes forget that I am capable of achieving things that seem impossible.  I have given birth to two children.  When I was 18 my fear of pain meant I wouldn't even get my belly button pierced, but a bad break up a few years later, gave me the 'I'll do whatever I want' anger and I went took a deep breath and did it.  This then made me realise that if I could do that then I could probably pluck up the courage and go and get the tattoo I had been yapping on about wanting for years and finally at 24 I went and did it (had another 4 since too...) and like I say, had two babies that really tested the pain barriers.

Sometimes I need to remind myself of these things because sometimes I think that I am not going to make it through the 'Toddlerhood' years with J2.  So I have to remind myself that at 20 miles in that Marathon I didn't think I was going to be able to finish, with rain dripping off of my eyelashes and nose and in a dark tunnel in London I looked at my phone and thought, I need to be picked up.  But I didn't (no signal put paid to that idea!) and I had to continue and I made it through out on to Embankment where cheering crowds carried my extremely tired and wet feet across the finish line on the Mall.

I have to remind myself that on that extremely long 'Red Run' when I had fallen over thirty times and I no longer had the energy push myself up off the snow that I had no option but to get up and get to the end for that much longed for Apres Ski.

They were all things that I didn't think I would be able to do, so I know that I will get through those days; days when I have to negotiate all day to avoid multiple meltdowns from an (almost) two year old, to deal with all the meltdowns that are not averted, to keep on top of the basic house keeping despite a child being attached to my leg.  I know that in the bigger picture this phase is a very small one, and they grow up very fast (I still say 'My eldest is 8' in a shocked tone).  But every now and then it is easy to get bogged down in the moment of screaming tantrums and wonder if I will make it through.

So in the event of seeing the bigger picture these are five things I would still really love to think that I will be able to do, once of course I have made it through to J2 going to school, cos I am sure at this point, if I can survive until then I can achieve anything...

1. Train for and run the Disney Marathon, New York Marathon and Boston Marathon

2. Become a published writer

3. Renovate a house to make it perfect for our families needs of being a family home and an accessible home for J1

4. Take J1 and J2 to Disney Florida and Niagara Falls Canada and to visit Sandy Holders Barbie Museum in California

5. To own a pair of Manolo Blanik shoes (o.k this is a little frivolous but hey!)

Thursday, 2 February 2012

The Plan - February

In January I decided to break down my Hopes and Aims for 2012 into bite size chunks over the year (full list can be viewed on post 2012 Plan) and to try and achieve those in conjunction with the Grooving Mums initiative over at Kate on Thin Ice.  Every week you can link up your posts about how and why you want / need to achieve certain things in your life, and it is a great place to read how others are 'finding their groove' to get inspired.

I pledged to attempt to start to achieve two or three items from my Personal and the same from my Family list in January (The Plan - January) and was steaming along nicely until this final week when I was struck down with a nasty bug that put me into bed for half a week and made me very grumpy and tired for the remainder of it, thus the lack of blog posts this last week.

However, being almost back to normal now (just a snotty cold to shift and energy levels to get back up to full speed...) and trying to find 'the silver lining' in being unwell and forced to bed has allowed me some time to think about what I would like to try and work on throughout February.  Of course I want to continue to achieve the things I was working hard on in January, keeping up with cooking at least four 'real meals' a week, baking something at least once a month and getting at least three blog posts out per week and I am confident that I will be able to and I am now aiming to also get cracking on the following :


- Be more vigilant with J1's home physiotherapy, even though he complains

There is a very serious reason for this one to be put up to red alert, a recent visit to J1's hip doctor this week has proved a little anxious, we have to go see him again in two months, with recent (i.e to go and get done) xrays as there is a possibility the hip is slipping out.  This is bad news if it is.  This means more surgery.  Bad, bad, bad all round, fingers crossed this is not the case.

- Start weekly swim sessions with J2 again

This was all planned to be started this week, but illness saw it off.  However, our swim bags are all packed and ready to go for next week.  Under 5's sessions here we come (well as long as we are not snowed in of course!)

- Do house filing once a month and keep on top of it all

Ha ha, once I have cleared the back log (do not enjoy the prospect, but once it's done it's done I suppose...)


- Start notes on book idea 

And this is not the children's book series, those are being worked on too, but I have also started a little file up on the ideas that have been bashing around my head for the last few months too on other possibilities.  I have found that I have been building characters in my mind of late and so want to get all those details recorded down, before they fall out of my ear.

- Continue to try and make an effort with my appearance as it is making me feel better

I was doing well with this pre-christmas, and it's fallen by the wayside again (I tend to find it does in the depths of winter, I go out much less (not a lover of the cold and all) and so don't need to but on spotting an almost mono-brow situation this morning I thought this should probably get bumped up the list.

- Treat self to a spa afternoon once every 3 months

Yes, this was on the list last month and not achieved so it's on again as it is a 'once every 3 months' item.  I am ever hopeful.

I am pleased to say that part of one of my other 'Aims' has also been achieved :

- Continue to learn about gardening and possibly go to The Chelsea Flower Show

My dear mum called very excited the other day to ask if I would like my birthday present to be a ticket to the Chelsea Flower Show with her?  YES PLEASE AND THANKYOU!  The other part of this 'aim' - well that will be a March / April, as I am a fair weather gardener!  However I have managed to locate my little collection of gardening books to try and have a look at soon, so that is a start.

I am pleased to say that the whole point of these posts, and the encouragement of hooking up with the Grooving Mum's, is to help me realise that I am achieving a lot when sometimes it really feels like I am not, and on days or weeks when I may not have much momentum and be in the possible situation of 'falling into a rut' (easy to do in winter with children, just stay in and play in PJ's), this encourages me not to do that. 

This week, with being under par that has been necessary (staying in and being in PJ's I mean) but I am soon fed up with it, and intend to get back out there in my grooving shoes (or maybe snow boots, brrr chilly).