Monday, 26 November 2012

2012 : Achievement

I have been intending to join in with Kate on Thin Ice and the fantastic #Get Grooving initiative for a few weeks now.  Time has not been on my side.  However, although I may not have penned my post, it has been formulating and evolving in my mind, so I am not surprised that at my first opportunity to power up the laptop I have felt compelled to get it written.

I first started joining in with the 'Groovy Mums' blog hop at the end of last year and into the beginning of 2012 because it was a way of tracking what I was doing with my life.  I was entering a second year of being a stay-at-home mum.  I was used to not getting up and going out to 'work' and settled into my 24/7 job of raising two children. 

I craved some structure however.  Groovy Mums encourages you to look at ways to improve things in your life, and subsequently the lives of those around you.  To take steps to improve yourself, no matter how small.  To think about what you want out of life and think about how you can get it.

At the beginning of the year I set down a list of Hopes and Aims for 2012.  It was quite an extensive list and incorporated aims for us as a family and for myself personally.  After my initial post I wondered if I had aimed for a little too much in one year, given that I have a severely disabled son and an extremely hot headed Toddler to look after.

Then I slapped myself on the wrist.  That sort of attitude was not going to get me anywhere.  Instead of looking at the lengthy wish list as a whole, I decided I would focus on one or two items each month.  I am not going to go into a long detailed run down of them all, there are various posts already with updates.  The long and short is I achieved them all bar TWO.  And with that I am pretty damn proud.

What I am more proud of is, as I have been thinking about all of this, the realisation of all the extra things that have been achieved this year.  Not just little insignificant things either.  Big things :

* I started publishing some fictional writing.  I have never done this in the past purely due to fear.  I have also started working on a few 'novel' ideas that have been rattling around in my mind.  I have subscribed to a Writing Magazine, which has introduced me to lots of ideas, information and the idea that I might enter work into competitions. 

* I attended my first blogging conference and met some wonderful fellow bloggers.  This was also a nerve-racking step but I am so glad I took it.  Roll on BritMums Live 2013.

* We took the bull by the horns and applied for some specialist equipment for J1.  These were things that we had only ever believed to be 'wish' items, but I am so happy that we persevered.  They are going to make such a huge difference to all of us because they will open up activities for us to all enjoy that we have never been able to before.

* We also took the plunge and booked a family holiday of a lifetime.  We could have always been 'put off' by the amount of research and fact finding it requires but many incidences this year have made me very aware of how grown up J1 is becoming and we became determined that it could be made to happen.

* The Hubby and I have both found an individual hobby each to enjoy.  Mine is running.  I set a goal of participating in The Great South Run in October and am pleased to say I completed it.  My next goal is our local Half Marathon in March.

* I have started doing some volunteer work for a fabulous cancer charity GRACE.

So I think, as we hurtle towards the end of 2012, that if I had to use one word to describe our year it would be 'Achievement'.  This is very pleasing and I would like to think that as a family we can give ourselves a big old pat on the back.

What word would sum up 2012 for you?

If you want to make changes to your life, no matter how big or small, take a look at the inspiring posts from Kate on Thin Ice.  Kate encourages you to always keep going, even if you feel you may be treading water.  When you think about it, usually turns out you are achieving more than you think.  Link your posts to inspire others, or get inspired if you are lacking motivation.

Now I need to start thinking about what we can achieve in 2013 - the possibilities really could be endless...

Friday, 16 November 2012

What Has Made Me Cheerful This Week?

It has been a bit of a mixed bag this week.  Not so much for me, but for those around me.  I really hope that my friends and family who have encountered sadness, loss and change within life find strength within the dark times. 

This has made me even more aware of the importance of finding the positives in your life and with this in mind here are my

* I should have attended Mumsnet Blogfest on Saturday.  I had purchased my ticket, arranged to see blogging friends made at Britmums Live in June and had stocked my blog-card holder.  However, National Rail thought it was acceptable for my already lengthy train journey into London, to be doubled due to multiple 'engineering works'.  I did not find the idea of having to leave my house at 4.45am and not return until approximately 11pm that night appealing and neither did my Husband think it would be safe.  So I had to forfeit my much looked forward to trip. 

What is there to be cheerful about that?  Well of course I do wish I could have found alternate transport, or had the money for a hotel so I could have stayed in the city the night before but my time wasn't wasted.  I started a long overdue 'House De-clutter' project.  So far living room and kitchen are complete.  Quite a lot more to do but I do keep looking around the living room and smiling.

* Further to Operation De-clutter above I also created a 'writing space'.  We have a fabulous little nook on our landing that is overlooked by the window.  It was screaming out for a desk so I could write, in good light with a lovely view of the farmers fields.  I kept saying I wanted an antique desk and a Tiffany style lamp.  Then it dawned on me, I already have a lovely desk.  Well it is a bureau that the Hubby procured for me when we moved.  It wasn't being utilised for writing where it was, so with some minimal changes it has been re-situated in the nook.  Just got to find a lovely Tiffany lamp to adorn it with now.

* Something happened this week, that although I can not go into details of, made me really appreciate my Husband.

* I got to go Wedding Dress shopping.  Not for me of course (although I would have happily tried on every dress in the shop) but for one of my oldest friends.  Watching her try on dresses brought a tear to my eye and in the end the dress picked her.  She is going to look stunning and I am very much looking forward to hearing about the planning and preparation and trying to help make it the best experience ever for both the Bride and Groom.

* I have taken steps to find my running mojo, which has been lost since my BUPA Great South Run Race.  The cold, dark, lonely nights are not inspiring to go out running in.  Through the web page for the local Half Marathon I am entered into in March, I have found some other people who are also looking for company whilst running and have been advised of a running group that is actually quite local to me.  I get the feeling I will not only find company but inspiration too.

So that is it for my week.  For more positive inspiration head over to Michelle at Mummy from the Heart for the 'Reasons to be Cheerful' #R2BC blog hop and find other cheery souls. 

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Guest Post : A response to 'that' Liz Jones article

I was supposed to attend Mumsnet Blogfest 2012, but due to unforeseen travel issues I was unable to make it.  I was disappointed.  The tweets being sent out really made it seem as if the lucky attendees were having a fantastic time.

Over the ensuing days I noticed that tweets were frequently mentioning outrage at one of the speakers, Liz Jones.  I did not follow up on what the issue was until a friend of mine, Sara Willcocks, who supports my writing, sent me the link to it.  She noted that she would be responding as it had enraged her so much, rightly so.  I will not do Ms Jones or The Mail the satisfaction of posting a link to their article.

It is one of many replies to the original piece and, I think,a very good one.  All in favour of Mothers everywhere say 'Aye!

Please put a sock in it Ms Jones - A reply by Sara Willcocks

I normally give Liz Jones’s column a very wide berth. But her ‘blogging mums’ headline caught my eye.   Never one to disappoint, it was as judgemental as I have long come to expect.  She might well complain bitterly about being driven from her not so cosy country retreat, but the reason is clearly a bit too close for Liz’s comfort.  Indeed, if she takes a long hard look in the mirror it might all become crystal clear.   After all, there is only so much unpleasantness one can take, and the good people of Somerset must surely have had their fill.

It’s not just her bluntness in proffering her opinion without thought or feeling for others. Or even the self-indulgent complaining that got my goat.  It is more her need to put down others while she’s doing it. Her lack of respect for those women, ‘the mums’, who paid good money to hear her prattle on about her own lucrative writing career, is nothing short of embarrassing.   Lucky Liz has the good fortune of a column in a phenomenally successful national paper.  Good on her.  It’s great that she’s got such a high platform to gloat from. Others are not so fortunate, but that does not mean to say that their own writing, via a blog or otherwise, should be denigrated  

One of my closest friends is a mummy blogger.  She writes about her life bringing up a severely disabled son.   I know for a fact that her writing has had a massively positive impact on other women.  Her blog has given them hope.  It has reinforced what they already knew, but couldn’t quite see through the tears: that being different doesn’t make a child any less perfect.   She is a shoulder to cry on, an ear to lend and a voice to be heard.  How dare Liz Jones, or any other person, trivialise what she, and the many women like her, are doing.   Her less than insightful judgement of women who choose to become mothers, and her reference to the burka and female freedom, was shameful.  Freedom comes in many guises. When a woman chooses motherhood it opens up a whole new world. These ‘duped’ women, who have chosen to skip past the glass ceiling, are no less free than any working woman in the western world. Arguably, they have more freedom than most.  Having the benefit of choice is one of the greatest freedoms of all.

Status Update : Sara is still awaiting any form of response from the Editor of Femail or otherwise - it seems they like to give it but not take it...

#OneWeek - Autumn 12 - New York New York

This is a photograph of me and two of my best friends from 2008.  This is my New York Posse.  The Gals.  My City Colluders.

The lovely lady (ML) in the middle lives in the UK.  We met at work and became firm friends over ten years ago.  She introduced me to the amazing city of New York, which I fell in love with as soon as I arrived, and also to the beautiful lady on the right of the photograph (DC).  ML and DC had been school friends in London but DC moved to New York with her family a few years previously.

DC was a character like no other I had met before, very much like New York, vibrant, loud and ambitious.  We became firm friends and ML and I visited her in New York on a yearly basis after 2008.

I have been to the great city in August (a bit smelly), September (full of sadness due to the atrocities of 9/11), December (Christmas - magical but shame about the company I had on that trip - needless to say it wasn't ML) and twice in November.

It is the November trips that I think we have all enjoyed the most.  I do not know why they were just fabulous.  New York is stunning in the 'fall' - Central Park is adorned with enormous trees glowing russet, amber and red making it feel warm and inviting.  The atmosphere on the street and in the shops was more friendly as the anticipated annual holiday of Thanksgiving came ever closer.

One year we just missed Thanksgiving and ML and I both noted on the flight home that we regretted it, having been there for the build up.  We agreed that our next trip would incorporate it, and it did.  It was wonderful.  The whole city closed early.  We excitedly made our way to Grand Central Station with thousands of others all hurrying home to their friends and family to enjoy a day of celebration.

November for me, always makes me think of those two visits to New York.  Of waking up in DC's apartment and seeing the Chrysler Building peeping through the window as I sipped my strong American coffee.  Of lining up our days worth of shopping bags and assessing whether we would fit it all in our case home.  Of longing for the Pink Stemmed Martini glasses (in the photo) and moving hell and high water not to break them on the journey home (or in various house moves come to think of it...) Of going to City Crab and having spicy shrimp and cocktails.  Of not being able to find 5th Avenue on my own, but finding the small liquor store that DC had given me directions to and purchasing the specific bottle of wine I was sent on the mission for.  Of the mouth-watering Angel Pasta from the cute little Italian minutes away from our home for the week.

Since J2 has been born I haven't been to New York (I was pregnant with him on my last visit).  Time has flown by, the economic climate has taken a serious nose dive and it is just harder for me to be away from the children and The Hubby as I have got older.  Time as a family is limited due to the type of job The Hubby does and so shaving that time down again to do individual activities is harder.

So I recall all of those happy memories I did get to make with two wonderful friends and cherish them.  Particularly at this time of year.

I am linking up with the #oneweek blog hop with Older Mum in a Muddle.  Check out other Autumn inspired posts here.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

FICTION - Camomile Crescent - A Chance Encounter

For the previous instalments of Camomile Crescent please go here

Emma stared at the newspaper she had placed on the small kitchen table and tapped her cheek nervously with her finger.  She had been out and purchased it a good hour earlier, and despite having made and drunk her coffee, she still had not opened it.

"This is ridiculous." she said out loud to herself "You are only looking at what jobs are available, it's not like you are waiting to go into the interview."  Even so, her stomach still flipped over.  She had never had a job.  She had gone from school, to college, to University and then had the children.  She had never even had a Saturday job.

She filled her days the children had been at school, so far three weeks, catching up with all the household chores that needed doing.  All those things she wished she had time to do but never did.  Along with keeping on top of the day to day things; washing; ironing; making packed lunches she had been pleasantly busy and felt a real sense of achievement as she focused and completed her tasks.

Now her 'back log list' was coming to an end.  All rooms had been de-cluttered, pulled out and deep cleaned.  Toys had been sorted, fixed and stored in a logical order with labels to help the children maintain the new system.  She had been brutal in what was kept and what was donated to the local play-group and for the first time - in the history of having the children - all toys fitted into the numerous storage solutions that had been purchased over the years.  She had even undertaken a little bit of painting and now the hall and living areas were looking much brighter. 

Now though, she was facing the thing she had longed for, and now feared.  Time to do something other than look after the children.  Most people she had spoken to - albeit briefly she didn't have an abundance of friends - had questioned whether she would try to find a job.  What job she had no idea.  But it would make sense to help the families finances, which were always tight on Luke's Firefighter wage.  Even during the months when his side line of being an Electrician brought in some extra money, it was immediately paid off of the credit card or used for buying the children new essentials. 

The family had never been on more than a long weekend away, usually a caravan in a British seaside town.  They had plenty of fun but it was always over so quickly.  Emma and Luke had dreamt of being able to take the children on a holiday abroad, especially as they were all now potty trained and free from baby paraphernalia.  But try as they might to save, a serious of unfortunate events; a new oven; an exhaust for the car; all the school uniform;  meant any surplus money they acquired was spoken for and as such the 'Holiday Fund' account was still sitting at a rather sundry £90.

Only one person had told her to 'Enjoy herself.' when discussing what to do with her time.  Sarah the lady from number 27.  Emma had only recently discovered her name.  Emma had been walking home from dropping the children at The Academy one morning and Sarah had been out tending to her front garden.  As Emma neared, the women clipping her roses stood back, pondering her next move and had noticed her walking along.  She smiled warmly. 

"Hello!" she had ventured.  Emma returned the smile, quietly replied and nodded.  She was surprised when the lady continued "I don't think I have ever seen you without children?"  Emma laughed.

"Me either.  I have just dropped them all off to school." she verified.

"The Academy?  So lucky to have such a good school so close by.  I am hoping my daughter, Melanie, will teach there one day."  She took off her gloves and walked over to lean on the gate "She is just about to go off to University.  She's going to do Sports Science.  She wants to be a PE Teacher.  She has always excelled at sports, lucky thing.  She's doing some travelling around Europe at the moment, she is due back tomorrow.  That's why I am out here so early, trying to get all those things I would do over the course of the week done so I can spend the next week with Mel, before she leaves for the start of her term."  Emma was taken aback by the barrage of information from a women she had only ever nodded recognition too.

"Oh." Emma responded slightly unsure "Where is she going to University?"  This question prompted a further flurry of information and Emma wondered if she gushed about her own children in the same way as Sarah was about her daughter.  Probably she thought, they were her world, as Melanie obviously was to her parents.

"It's four you have got isn't it?" Sarah asked, tilting her head slightly to one side.  Emma was caught off guard with the sudden change of direction in conversation.

"Er... yes." she said with a lack of confidence.  Sarah laughed.  "Yes!" Emma reiterated shaking her head "Sorry, yes four, two sets of twins."

"Dear little things."  Sarah stated, then added winking "Well, they look like."  This time Emma laughed.

"Ha, sometimes.  No, they have definitely got better as they have got older.  And now they are all at school, they have less energy for fighting in the evening."

"Dream for you isn't it?" Sarah said "To finally have a bit of time for yourself."  Emma pondered this.  Yes it should have been.  But she had been struggling to find a new routine.  She just didn't really know what she should be doing with herself.

"It's..."  Emma paused "Odd."  She wanted to say, in actual fact it was petrifying.  That despite her best efforts at keeping busy she found herself pacing around at 2.30 in the afternoon wondering if it was too early to take the ninety second walk to the school.  Then she felt frustrated with herself.  At the first glimmer of that emotion she found something to clean, again, and pushed it aside.

She had found, however that she was becoming more short with Luke, when he invariably asked her what she had done with her day.  She knew it wasn't his fault that she had decided to stop having any other life outside of him and the children, but she just couldn't help it.  She felt foolish saying that she had spent all day cleaning and tidying and re-arranging.  He had commented how wonderful the home now looked, and she was grateful that he appreciated her full fledged efforts.  That had been a target since the children were born and it was satisfying to be fully on top of that at least.  Why wouldn't it be, she thought, it was all she had. 

Emma realised she had lost focus on what Sarah was saying, re-engaging as she said "A new routine just takes time, but just remember to make some time for yourself."  Emma forced a laugh.

"Oh yes, certainly!" The one thing she wasn't sure how to do, was just that.  Sarah tapped Emma's hand affectionately, which she had absent-mindedly rested on the gate.

"It's been lovely to chat to you.  It's madness I have lived in this road for so many years, yet I don't really know anyone.  Although," she said in a hushed tone "Some people I don't think I will be making an effort with." she nodded towards one of the larger detached properties, directly opposite Emma's modest semi-detached home. 

If memory served Emma correctly, the couple who had bought it had a son and daughter.  They looked like they were in their early teens.  Emma had seen them individually running into the gates of The Academy High School section, late, as she had been returning from dropping her own children several times over the last few weeks. 

Ellen.  That was the women.  She had no real idea who the man of the house was, when they had moved in there had been months of builders arriving and departing and Emma had given up trying to work out who was who.  She had seen a man coming and going daily certainly, but he left extremely early in the morning and usually returned at the time Emma was attempting to settle the children in to bed.  Sarah was right, they didn't seem particularly approachable so she would probably never need to know.  "Well, must get on, I am sure you have got plenty to be doing too."  Sarah concluded and both women had returned to their day.

Emma now drummed her fingers on the newspaper and sighed.  The day she had stood and chatted with Sarah had given her a spring in her step.  One to one adult conversation with another female had been such a change and had given her a buzz she missed and longed for, moreso now than ever.  She had heard some of the mothers at the school deciding to take their animated conversation at the gates to the local coffee shop and Emma had found herself forlornly watching them leave.  She desperately would have loved to have been involved in that sort of peer group but found herself struggling to get involved enough to get an invite.

Frowning at her own lack of self confidence, she pushed the chair back and made her way to the kettle.  One thing Emma loved was coffee.  It had been an essential ingredient for her to make it through the day for years and habits were hard to break.  Reaching for the sugar bowl, she remembered it was empty.  At one point Emma had been partial to three sugars, although she had got it down to one over the last few weeks she still needed it.  Opening the cupboard she scoured the cupboard for a new bag, failing to find one. 

"Grrrrrrr Luke!" she admonished him without him knowing it.  Luke had few bad habits but using the last of something and not telling her was one of them.  "I'll have to go back out now." she grumbled.  Making her way to the hall she pulled on her jacket and felt for her purse and keys.  Opening the front door she realised she did not have her phone with her.  Although she was only walking the short distance to the shop she didn't like to think the school couldn't get hold of her for a second.

It was quite an old phone, nothing like the mini-computers mobiles seemed to be these days.  But it made her contactable and she could text, which is about all she required it to do.  She couldn't work Luke's, it didn't  have buttons.  Emma liked the comfort of what she knew.  Advancement scared her, and she wondered if that fear was starting to hold her back in life?

Venturing out, for a second time, she pulled the old front door shut with a bang and set off down the small garden path.  She glanced along the road and saw one of her neighbours also coming out of her house.  As she closed the gate and started along the road she saw her neighbour grip onto her fence, sudden standing still with her head down, her long auburn hair covering her face.  Emma watched her warily, wondering what she was doing.  As Emma drew closer the women slowly started walking again, opening her own gate.  She stepped towards her car as Emma approached, suddenly gasping and pushing her hand against the door as if to help her stay up.  Emma looked around unsure what to do.  No one else was insight.  She could hear the women cursing.

""  Emma started "Are you OK?"  She didn't draw any closer but couldn't just ignore the her when she was visibly in distress.  The women seemed surprised to see her.

"I don't know." she replied her face showing discomfort.  

"Is there anyone, indoors, I can get for you?"  Emma asked glancing towards the house the women had just emerged from.

"I hate hospitals." The women said, more to herself before responding to Emma.  "No." the reply came hastily "No, my partners away on business."  The women seemed to compose herself a little, but Emma wondered if she had been crying, her eyes had the tell tale signs but otherwise she was immaculately turned out in a suit.  "I need to get back to my office."  At that she again started to rub her abdomen "Oh no."  she murmured.

Emma hated to see anyone in pain "I think you better go and get yourself checked out." she said unhelpfully.

"Can you drive?" the women asked her expectantly.  Emma could but rarely did, they only had one car and Luke used it most of the time.  If Emma needed anything requiring a car she usually waited for Luke and he drove her.

"Yes, but," Emma started.

"Great." the women interrupted "I think it would be better if you drive."  Taken aback Emma stood, staring open mouthed.

"But," she started again just as the women pounded her fist on the car door, face contorted in discomfort, cursing.  "OK."  Emma quickly agreed as the women shook the car keys at her.  She glanced at the car, a sporty little red number and with her heart racing she pressed the unlock button.  The women opened the passenger side door and Emma made her way to the other side.  As she stood by the drivers door she took a deep breath and exhaled "You can do this." she commanded herself.  She opened the door and got in, surprised at how small it was inside, she was only used to having to have a car the size of a mini van.

She looked by the steering wheel and then glanced at what she had in her hand.  Where was the key?  She looked the other side and briefly shot a look at the face of her passenger, who had her eyes closed and was rubbing her forehead.  At the lack of engine starting she opened her eyes and looked at Emma, who was looking quite clueless. 

"Oh, you push that button." she said, indicating with a immaculately manicured finger nail.  Emma felt a stab of envy as she noticed her own dry hands.  That was what constant washing up, cleaning and sorting wet laundry did, she thought.  Bemused by the lack of key she didn't speak but checked that everything else in the car was as she remembered it, at least there was a gear stick and clutch. 

Pressing the button as instructed the car roared into life.  She touched the steering wheel, gear stick, clutch several times before actually taking the plunge and pushing the car into first.  Feeling for the indicator as she glanced in the side mirror she tentatively jolted away.  The sharp kangaroo jump led her passenger to open her eyes again.

"Sorry,"  Emma blagged "So used to our people carrier."  She slowly crept up the street letting the engine rev a little too long between gear changes, but soon realised that she could still remember how to drive.  As she reached the end of the road and made to take a right her passenger groaned and sat forward putting her head in her hands.  As she wheel spun out on to the road she thought that at least she would have something different to tell Luke this evening.  It was as she was contemplating if she was going to make it through the lights that her companion spoke.

"I'm Danielle." she took a deep breath and leaned back on the seat.  Emma glanced over at her briefly and realised it was her turn to introduce herself.

"Emma." she responded concentrating fiercely on the road "Have you had this pain before?"

"For a day or so."  She paused and looked away "I'm pregnant."  Emma shot her a look again. "Crossing." Danielle warned Emma. 

Emma slammed on the brakes just in time.

"Sorry.  Again.  How far along..." she began.

"Oh I don't really know.  I'm not," she paused "keeping it."  She turned her head towards the window once more as she said it "It's not in our plans."  She continued "Children I mean.  We agreed, right at the beginning of our relationship."

"Oh," Emma said quietly "Are you going to contact, er,"

"Marc?" Danielle replied "No he is in Ireland at the moment.  I was going to deal with the situation over the next few days."  She groaned again and pulled her knees up a little "Now fate might have taken it out of my hands." 

Emma turned off of the main road and thought back to her own pregnancies.  Nothing could have stopped her having the twins and she would have been devastated if she had found herself in a situation that Danielle was currently in.  Different people she thought.

"Have you had any bleeding?"  Emma questioned.  One thing Emma did feel confident talking about was pregnancy and babies.

"A little, more brown colour than red though.  And then these god damn cramps.  Mind you, they seem to be easing off a little now."  Was that hope Emma heard in Danielle's voice?  Emma still didn't think the prognosis was going to be good, maybe Danielle was right, maybe fate had intervened.  Emma indicated and turned into the hospital grounds.  "Could you drop me by the door and then go and park?" Although it was a question, it was asked in a tone that indicated that was what Emma was to do. 

"Of course."  Emma obliged.  She drew the car to a stop and Danielle opened the door.

"I'll speak to the desk and meet you in there."  She put one leg out of the door and turned back "Thanks." Danielle seemed to be mentally preparing herself for entering the hospital building.  Emma pulled away round to the car park where she inexpertly managed to get the vehicle into a space eventually.  Emma was really quite proud of herself and had only been tooted at twice by other, impatient drivers. 

She assumed the engine was turned off in the same way it was started.  As the car silenced and settled she took stock of the situation.  She was currently sitting in a sports car, that belonged to someone she had never spoken to before and was likely going to have to support that person in one of the most emotional experiences of their lives.  Emma paused, would it be emotional though, when she didn't want the pregnancy in the first place?  Emma yet again realised how naive she was and how much life experience she didn't have.  She could only think of the world through her own eyes.

Checking there was no one around she leaned over and opened the glove box.  She found make up, deodorant, a bottle of perfume and spare tights all neatly packed in.  Emma thought of her own car, strewn with car seats, littered in sweet wrappers, empty juice cartons, toys, drawings and an abundance of crumbs.  Oh what would she do if she had her own little number like this she thought.  She could have Cd's of her choice for a start.    

She suddenly realised she was still sitting pondering in the car, whilst Danielle was waiting for her.  Hastily getting out and locking up she hurried across the car park.  It was then she suddenly became conscious of what she was wearing.  Although today, by luck, she had not thrown on a pair of soft comfort trousers she had at least grabbed jeans, they were her old bell-bottom style ones.  These were accompanied by a knitted jumper that had numerous pulls and had seen better days.  Just from looking at the other mums at the school she knew skinny jeans were now the fashion and for the first time since having the children it bothered her.  She was going to be forced to sit next to Danielle who, even in her pain and discomfort had managed to turn herself out perfectly.

By the time she got to the entrance of the hospital she could see Danielle in heated discussion with the lady on the desk and was unsure whether to approach.  She could hear Danielle stating that she categorically could not wait an hour and a half to be seen as she needed to be in a meeting by then.  It was only when Danielle paused, to obviously let a cramp pass that Emma thought she may need some support. 

"Hi!" she beamed at the lady on the desk "Can I speak with you," she discreetly pointed her finger to the side "In private." she mouthed.  The receptionist nodded and Emma encouraged Danielle to take a seat.  The receptionist looked at Emma expectantly, as if it was going to take a miracle to get her to do any favours for the women that was so rude.

"I'm sorry I wasn't sure where I was supposed to take her, I think she is," Emma paused and realised she did not want to say what she was going to have to say "She's er..." she stammered.  The receptionist raised her eyebrows.  Emma took a deep breath "I think she's having a miscarriage."  The receptionists face softened. 

"OK.  Give me a few minutes to speak to the right people."

"Thanks."  Emma said gratefully.  She went over to Danielle "Hopefully we won't have to wait too long."

"Thanks." Danielle said, somewhat defeated.  "I'm not a hoity-toity person you know.  This whole," She waved her hand "Situation - just couldn't have come at a worse time.  I'm flat out at work and," she looked around concern covering her expressions "I have a real issue with anything medical and " she didn't finish the sentence. 

"Is there anyone I can call for you?  Parents?  Sister?"  Emma tried again.  Danielle shook her head.

"No, I really do not want to have to tell my mum about this.  Marc said she would make too much fuss.  I'm an only child."  She looked thoughtful "I've got plenty of friends, but only two really close ones.  Matilda lives in the States now, she was the one who introduced me to Marc."  Danielle added.  Emma noticed that at this point her mouth turned into a small smile, as if remembering an affectionate moment. "And Nancy, she does live nearby but I haven't been able to get hold of her for weeks.  She's trying to get a big promotion at work." Danielle said as if needing to justify this fact to herself.  At that moment a nurse arrived and escorted them out of the waiting room, to the audible tutting of the other patients.

Emma waited on a hard plastic chair in the maternity seating area that she knew so well.  She absent-mindedly rubbed her stomach thinking of the last time she sat here when she was expecting the girls.  She had enjoyed her pregnancies, she loved all the extra attention she got from it, but knew how much hard work babies were once they came into the world.  Danielle had been shown into a private room for a consultation and examination.  Emma had thought Danielle might pass out, but didn't feel it was appropriate to offer to accompany her, given she had known her for about an hour.

Suddenly the door opened and the nurse summoned Emma in.  Emma looked around uncomfortably "Are you sure?" she asked. 

"Yes!" she heard Danielle shout.  Emma gathered her things and walked in.  Danielle was sitting in a chair, tissue in hand.  Emma stood awkwardly.  The nurse cleared her throat.

"I have tried explaining to Miss Marchant, that we need to do a scan, to see what is going on."

"And I have told the Nurse that I do not want a scan, that I am not," she looked from the nurse to Emma and swallowed hard "having it.  A baby I mean."  Emma sensed she had been called into referee, this was something she was proficient at having four, similar age children.

"We still need to know the situation."  The nurse pressed on "Even if you do decide not to go ahead with pregnancy, we would still probably need to do a scan to ascertain how many weeks you are."

"Why?  Why would you need to do that?" Danielle asked desperately looking pleadingly at Emma.  Emma opened her mouth to speak but the nurse beat her to it.

"Well, there are different ways to proceed, depending on how far along in the pregnancy you are."

"Oh." Danielle replied.  Emma was quite shocked that Danielle hadn't found this sort of information out, given that she seemed like a savvy women in all other respects.  Emma sensed Danielle had perhaps buried her head in the sand due to her medical fear.  Danielle suddenly crumpled and Emma felt a rush of empathy for her.

"It doesn't hurt, the ultrasound I mean."  Emma offered.  "I'll go in with you if you like."  Danielle nodded slowly as she tried to regain her composure.

"OK," the nurse said, a note of relief in her voice "Let me go and see if they can squeeze you in."  The nurse left closing the door gently behind her.  Emma looked out of the window, not sure what to say next when she heard Danielle speak quietly.

"Don't let me look at the screen."  Danielle looked up "Please, don't let me look at the screen, I don't want to see..." she didn't finish.

"I don't think they'll show us the screen."  Emma comforted gently.  The nurse returned with some water.

"Drink this for me and I'll take you along."  Danielle took the bottle and nodded.  Emma gathered up her scared companions designer handbag and coat for her as the nurse showed them out and along the corridor.  At the door to the ultra-sound the nurse went in handing over paperwork and speaking in hushed tones.  Danielle paused.

"I think I'm going to be sick."  Emma put down all the stuff she was holding and rubbed Danielle's back.

"Take some deep breaths, I think you're just really nervous."  Danielle closed her eyes and shakily breathed in and out.

"Come in, come in."  The Sonographer called.  They entered the darkened room.  "OK, which of you ladies am I doing?"

"This is Danielle."  Emma answered for them both gently moving Danielle towards the bed. 

"OK my love, I just need you to lift your top, and pull your bottoms down a little."  Danielle hopped onto the bed reluctantly drawing her top up as requested.  The Sonographer tucked paper towels into her clothes. "Just going to squeeze this jelly on - it might feel a bit cold."  Emma didn't think Danielle would notice, she was shaking like a leaf and had fixed her stare on the ceiling.  Emma took the seat next to the bed and suddenly felt compelled to hold Danielle's hand.  Danielle looked over to her and tried to smile but crumpled into tears.  Emma felt Danielle's grip tighten as the Sonographer started pressing around on her exposed flesh.

Emma flicked her eyes around the room.  She felt lucky, she had only ever experienced joy in these rooms.  A little fear, of course, when they said she was having a second set of twins, but the minute she saw the two little beans flying around the screen she had surged with love.  She had been able to share the most magical moment in the world with the man she loved and she suddenly felt guilty for being so grumpy with her husband of late. 

The only noise that could be heard in the room was the clicking of keys on the computer the Sonographer made every now and then.  "Well," the Sonographer said quietly "Everything seems to be fine."

"What?"  Danielle and Emma said in unison.

"What about the bleeding?  The cramps?"  Danielle questioned.  The Sonographer spoke carefully.

"It's not, uncommon, to experience those things.  Sometimes it has no reason, sometimes it can be attributed to the implantation period of the pregnancy..."  Danielle shook her head.

"Where?"  Danielle demanded.

"Where?" The Sonographer repeated confused.

"Where?  On the screen is it.  Show me."

"Danielle," Emma started.

"Let me see." Danielle asked.

"Er..." Emma flustered "I didn't think..."

"Please."  Danielle said almost pleading "Show me."

"If you're sure."

"Yes."  Danielle answered.  The Sonographer turned the monitor.  Emma saw it instantly, she had become very familiar with scans and working out what was what.  She could not stop the smile breaking out on her face.  Danielle on the other hand looked perplexed.  The Sonographer clarified for her.  Emma saw a slow look of wonder cross Danielle's face "Wow."  Danielle mustered. 

Emma knew in that moment a different women was born.  A women that wanted her baby.  And from the squeeze and smile that Danielle now gave Emma as the Sonographer continued to talk she felt a bond, a friendship beginning.  With neither women knowing how much one chance encounter would change their lives.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Featured Story on Mummy Pink Wellies : World Prematurity Day

K over at Mummy Pink Wellies is championing (brilliantly by the way) #WorldPrematurityDay over on her blog.  She is featuring as many stories on families that have experience with Premature Birth as possible in order to try and raise awareness of the 17 million babies born prematurely around the world.

Today she has featured myself and J1's premature birth journey.  Please follow the link HERE and check it out, along with the other posts featured recently.

If you want to know more about #WorldPrematurityDay both Mummy Pink Wellies and Not Even a Bag of Sugar blogs are a mine of information and links to organisations that can help.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

What Has Made Me Cheerful This Week?

The time of the week for thinking about Reasons to be Cheerful with Mummy from the Heart is once again with us.  I am still minus my own laptop but thankfully have managed to procure a loaner for a couple of days so that is an instant #R2BC!

It has been surprising at how much not being able to write has frustrated me.  Not in the lack of time, I am used to that and know that as the children get older time will become available, but in the event I would have been able to sit down at the laptop and not being able to.

Anyway, I do have the power to 'power up' right now so am getting as much writing done as possible.  I am putting together posts in the hope of being able to get them scheduled to publish.  So on with my :

* I got to spend quality time with my 18 month old nephew and then had a family filled Saturday.  Even my older nephew came to visit with his 'girlfriend' - this makes me feel very old, but she was lovely and what was even more lovely - he didn't change one single bit around her.

* On Saturday night, The Hubby, The Kids and I all got dressed up for Halloween and went to our friends party.  I was so pleased with all of our costumes and I forgot how much fun it was to get dressed up all silly for a night out.  Plus I loved my wig!

* On Sunday we asked J1 what he would like to do as a birthday treat and he picked Ten Pin Bowling.  This is an activity that we can all enjoy so it was lovely to make an afternoon of it. 

* On Monday my mum babysat J2 so that I could go and see to of my beautiful pregnant girlfriends whom I used to work with.  It has been far to long since our last catch up and they both looked stunning.

* On Tuesday we celebrated J1 turning nine years old.  He was unfortunately a little under the weather so couldn't go to school but we spent the day at home snuggling and reading his new books. 

* I am hoping to be able to go and visit one of my friends that has recently had their baby on Friday.  I am a little wary that as the boys have been poorly I might be due a dose, but fingers crossed I will be well enough.

* I am also hoping the same thing for Saturday because I am off to Mumsnet Blogfest I am super excited about this having enjoyed Britmums Live earlier this year.  I am really looking forward to seeing the fabulous girls and fellow bloggers I met in June that are also attending; Older Mum in a Muddle; Single, Older Mum and Mush Brain Ramblings.

With the conclusion of my positives for the week please head over and check out other cheery souls at Mummy from the Heart.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The Disability Diaries (The Life of J1) : Nine

Nine years ago today I was a new Mother of a day.  Eight weeks earlier than planned.  My baby boy was in SCBU High Dependency, covered in tubes, wires and face masks.  Rather than being in the peaceful surroundings of our warm and loving home, he was surrounded by loud, bleeping machines and nurses scurrying back and forth.  A wide eyed blond women sat staring at him, with a shocked expression, for 14 hours a day.  That women was me.  His mum.

I have written, numerous times about J1's birth, the fact that he was premature and the sad day we discovered he had suffered brain damage during the last hour of being in my womb and had been left with the condition Cerebral Palsy.  I have noted on many posts how severely physically disabled the Cerebral Palsy has left him and how we all face challenges on a day to day basis that we never knew were possible before J1 came into our world.

But in this post I want to talk about J1 making it to the ninth year of his life.  How I have realised over the last couple of years in particular, as we have sadly said our goodbyes to some children who J1 started school with, who have been taken as Angels and watched others fight for their lives and beat the odds, how lucky we are to have our little boy here to celebrate. 

I do not like to dwell on the fact that although J1 has a condition rather than a degenerative disease that will progressively get worse, there are factors within that condition that could threaten his life.  The fact that he suffered with Epilepsy in his younger years.  That he can have reflux in his sleep that could result in him choking to death if we were not close enough to get to him to move him.  That due to him not moving around his bowels to not get the movement needed to clear them easily, which if ever was left to take hold could cause all sorts of problems.  That because he does not walk his bones start to develop in the wrong way, which need operations to rectify.  Big operations, that come with all sorts of risks. 

These have to all be pushed to the back of my mind to get through the day, otherwise I would be a wreck sobbing on the floor.  However, every now and again I think it is important to take stock of these things and realise that despite all of those issues, he is a happy, joyful, cheeky and on a day to day basis healthy little boy.  That he trumps all of these negative possibilities with quite a gusty 'Ave That!' without even knowing it.

It is a joy to see my, once scrawny baby, who's legs were layered in rolls of skin because he didn't have any fat - eat his breakfast, lunch and dinner better than most other nine year olds we know.  To hear him sing along with the TV, even if we have seen the same programme a million times.  To watch him now interact with other, able bodied children his age, whereas once he would fear them.  To even see him be naughty and cheeky on occasion.

So in celebration of your ninth birthday J1, we thank you for being wonderful and appreciate everything you are.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

What Has Made Me Cheerful This Week?

It is that time of the week once again to thrust out the negative and focus on the positive with Michelle at Mummy from the Heart for :

This week has been pretty action packed so without further ado, this is what has made me Cheerful this week :

* I successfully completed The BUPA Great South Run.  10 miles on a chilly, but thankfully dry morning in Portsmouth.

* The Great South Run afforded The Hubby and I a rare weekend alone together.  We caught up, laughed, and had a lovely time just the two of us.

* It is Half Term, which although manic is a pleasure. 

* A friend has asked if I could do some social media volunteer work, for the charity GRACE, which I am really excited about.

* I have also been talking to the same friend about being involved with another exciting project, but details are still top secret at the moment.

* My Sister in Law is recovering at home from her massive surgery of last week so we went and collected my beautiful 18 month old nephew to look after for a few days, to ensure she has proper peace and quiet at home.  He is adorable and it is lovely to see him and J2 at the age where they can play nicely together.

* I managed to get an instalment of Camomile Crescent written and published within a week, rather than the usual two.  The mind is in overdrive of plot lines now, for that and some other WIP I have on the go.

* Lynsey The Mother Duck blog has received a record number of views for the month, which always thrills me.

If you want to know more about the Reasons to be Cheerful blog hop and would like to check out other cheerful bods, fly over to Mummy from the Heart.