Monthly Archives: November 2014

The ordinary moments – Christmas whispers.

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This time of year is an exciting one for me. Until this week I wasn’t feeling Xmas at all – but then, I did ban it until December. But this week it’s started to whisper – having Xmas films start on TV ( I love them all!) and something about the cold crisp days, frost on the car in the mornings and it creeping into December has got all of us thinking more of the excitement of Xmas.

Yesterday me and my girls were having a tidy up and quiet day. So I put some Xmas songs on, and bumpy girls loved dancing together to them – I video’d them but don’t know how to add videos on here, so I won’t try! And then in the afternoon Amelia had a choice of what to do while Rosie napped, and she chose to make Xmas cards. So I got out a load of craft and she made a few cards, with no help from me at all. I was really impressed.

It’s been a calm and happy few days – for me it’s important that Xmas doesn’t become all about the gifts, but is about our traditions – film nights, activities and fun – and isn’t just about material things. For me Xmas isn’t about getting stressed, it’s about enjoying it all. And that’s what I’m going to do – we might not do craft every day, we haven’t made an advent activity calendar, and we may not do much at all. But if we are together as a family doing the things that make us happy, I’ll consider Xmas a success.

It is this way every year – a gradual creeping up of the Xmas feeling. And it’s ordinary and yet special each and every year.

If you want to join in with the ordinary moments, you can do so at mummy daddy me.
Xxx

Thankful

I am such a lucky person.

I haven’t talked about it on my blog, but at the moment we are doing a lot of work in our dining / play room. In September we got patio doors as a gift from my lovely parents in law. That led to a bit of motivation, and we stripped the walls. One thing led to another, and we ended up ripping the 1950’s gas fire out, with the intention of adding a wood burning stove in there.

Sounds simple right?

Well – I can promise you, its been a bit of a nightmare. Dust, soot, chaos, mess and everything that goes with all of the above.

I want to do a ‘big reveal’ when it is eventually done in about 3 months probably so I’m not adding photos yet, but today I wanted to talk about all of the fantastic people who have supported us, helped us and been there for us throughout this process.

– Craig’s Mum and Dad. They have been, as always, fantastic. They are so supportive, and his Dad went on our roof (twice!) even though it is a scary thing to do, and spent all day helping us out putting a liner in the chimney (something I NEVER want to repeat). And they had the girls overnight when we had an unexpected early delivery of soot from up the supposedly swept chimney. It was hard work for them, and I don’t think how much I can express the help they have given us over the years.

– My Mum and Dad. My Mum and Dad are also amazing. They help me so much with my girls, picking them up from School, looking after them when I work, giving me a bit of time to do things I need to do . And cooking for us sometimes, lending us stuff – they are so needed. Rosie is funny with my Dad – whenever they come round she kisses me goodbye and insists on going with them. And has a huge strop if she can’t.

– Ben and Sarah. My brother in law and sister have also been so brilliant. Ben has been drilling out sockets, and he has given up three days off to help with our electrics and the chimney liner installation. My sister and Ben get married next August, and I cant wait to have a brother for the first time 🙂 And Sarah goes out of her way, she will always help out if we need anything, and will do anything for anyone. My sisters are my best friends.

Lydia – Because when I rushed round and dropped Rosie on her to take Amelia to the dentist, she didn’t tell me no 🙂 And because she’s her lovely funny, unique self.

Abi – for coming all the way from London to see us all, and for always being such a positive, supportive person.

I’m also lucky because I have Craig, who is my best friend, my support and my safety net. I am glad I have him to come home to because I know that we are a team, always. And my beautiful girls, the reason that I smile and feel lucky every single day.

We have such a good support network, of people that I couldn’t be without. It makes me feel safe and supported, and makes me feel okay to be me. And means that our family, with our busy lives, are able to manage each day.

Thank you all, whoever of my family who read this. We love you all and appreciate everything more than you know.

xxx

Chicken pitta salad.

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Okay, so I’m the first to admit that this is a simple, simple tea to make. But I had a craving for it last week, and bought a chicken *at the bargain price of £3.70!) which made this, chicken buns on Sunday and chicken fajitas and salad on Monday night.

This was a yummy lunch. Chicken, salad, pitta bread and it’s done. I love simple, home cooked and yet delicious food. And who says you cant eat salad in winter? 🙂

xxx

Mad Worlds by Bill Douglas

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The Blurb

Young teacher John Chisholm is haunted by a past tragedy and, believing his wife no longer loves him, begins to experience a nervous breakdown. He is forcibly removed to Springwell, a harsh mental institution where he endures and witnesses abuse – some of this ‘in the name of treatment’ – and makes new, eccentric friends. He is certified and detained indefinitely. Although suicidal at times, he is determined to survive and escape.

John’s wife Heather Chisholm, who has recently battled post-natal depression, is distraught. Left to care for their baby, she struggles to rally support from friends and family. Encountering John’s hostility on visiting him, and horrified at the conditions in which he is hopelessly trapped, she finds herself vulnerable to Sam Newman, an overworked Mental Health Officer instrumental in John’s detention. But he’s not the only one with his eye on her…

My Thoughts 

I work as a Social Worker, and have always had an interest in the way that mental health services have changed over time. On my student placement I visited an old ‘institution’ for people with learning disabilities. This book is about that kind of setting, and exploring through the characters the way mental health services were compared to now, and how they started evolving.

I have to be honest though. I didn’t love this book. The writing at times seemed wooden, and I didn’t really relate to any of the characters; Some of the motivations (specifically in the attempts by two separate characters to gain the affection of Heather) came across as false and a bit far fetched.

However, I found the comparison between how Heather was supported through post natal depression and how John’s experience was so completely different interesting; that to me was really quite thought provoking, as even now men cannot easily admit that they are not coping. Men’s emotions still often have to be hidden.

I also liked the descriptions of the escape – I liked that there were positives in the story.

On a personal note, I work quite closely with mental health services for older people, and I do feel that services have come a huge way in a relatively short space of time. There are always improvements that could be made, but overall services now are community based, and crisis teams support people through difficult times at home for as long as possible  – in such a short time a huge amount has been achieved.

Overall – I wouldn’t read this book again I don’t think, but I did enjoy that it made me think about a few things – it had some potential but didn’t quite meet my hopes.

xxx

Hope in a Ballet Shoe by Michaela and Elaine DePrince.

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The Blurb

Orphaned by war, saved by ballet.

Growing up in war-torn Sierra Leone, Michaela DePrince witnesses atrocities that no child ever should. Her father is killed by rebels and her mother dies of famine. Sent to an orphanage, Michaela is mistreated and she sees the brutal murder of her favourite teacher.

But there is hope: the Harmattan wind blows a magazine through the orphanage gates. Michaela picks it up and sees a beautiful image of a young woman dancing. One day, she thinks, I want to be this happy.

And then Michaela and her best friend are adopted by an American couple and Michaela can take the dance lessons she’s dreamed of since finding her picture.

Life in the States isn’t without difficulties. Unfortunately, tragedy can find its way to Michaela in America, too, and her past can feel like it’s haunting her. The world of ballet is a racist one, and Michaela has to fight for a place amongst the ballet elite, hearing the words “America’s not ready for a black girl ballerina”.

And yet…

Today, Michaela is an international ballet star, dancing for The Dutch National Ballet at the age of 19.

A heart-breaking, inspiring autobiography by a teenager who shows us that, beyond everything, there is always hope for a better future.

The Positives

There is a lot that I liked about this book. After reading it, I feel really interested in ballet generally. I went and watched a documentary that Michaela featured in called First Position, and I am seriously considering booking tickets to watch a ballet locally. It has made me interested in something that I have not been particularly interested in before.

– I liked the positive approach that Michaela and her family take to life. I love that she has such close relationships with her family and that they have supported her to reach her dream, making sacrifices along the way to provide that support.

– I also really enjoyed reading about how Michaela’s early years made her so determined to achieve her goals.

– I liked that, although her early years are important, that the focus is more on how Michaela managed to move beyond the trauma and how she found the courage to move forward.

The not so good..

Okay so there’s nothing major. My only niggles are:

– That, reading as an e-book there were no pictures. I know that technology doesn’t really support this, and I looked her up afterwards, but I tend to ‘connect’ to people writing autobiographies more when I can see them.

– There was a slight inconsistency that has been bugging me a bit. In the book, Michaela describes something happening to her teacher. In the documentary which I watched afterwards (and really enjoyed), she described it differently. It’s just something that I picked up on and I have wondered about.

– I think that as the book was co-authored, I would have liked more from Elaine DePrince (the Mum), particularly about why she chose to adopt, her thoughts on her Daughter’s ambition and just the telling of some things from her perspective.

Overall

Overall, although this is not a book I would usually choose (I was drawn to the cover), I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to those who enjoy auto-biographies.

I requested this book via netgalley – it is published on 30.12.14. I was provided this book free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

Blacklist

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If you love CSI and crime drama type programmes, Blacklist is or you 🙂 Me and Craig have been watching it for the past couple of months, and have just finished all of the existing episodes. So I thought It seemed like a good deed to share the information about it (I haven’t been asked to review it, I just wanted to).

What it’s all about

Former government agent Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) has eluded capture for decades. But he suddenly surrenders to the FBI with an offer to help catch a terrorist under the condition that he speaks only to Elizabeth “Liz” Keen (Megan Boone), a young FBI profiler who’s just barely out of Quantico. *

What I liked

– It is much more than it says on the tin. In each episode there is a story – such as them going  after a criminal. But there is much more. The motivations of the characters is interesting, and is developed a little during each episode.

– I loved the drama – I like escapist TV, things that I can watch, enjoy and don’t worry me, make me think too much or annoy me (I have enough of that in everyday life!). So this is perfect.

– There are some brilliant episodes, and the acting is pretty good – I especially like Red and Tom Keen.

The not so good

– Some episodes were a bit repetitive.

– They often let the criminals get away, which becomes a bit annoying.

– I wanted to know a bit more of the ‘why’ (don’t want to say too much in-case of spoilers) but the constant mystery of peoples motivations does get annoying.

– Everyone hated Red all the time, even when what he has done is actually a nice thing, like saving somebody.

I would recommend that everyone watch at least one episode – if you don’t like the first, you probably wont like the rest. If you like it, you might get a bit addicted 🙂

I’m onto The Good Wife now – I may love American crime drama a little bit.

xxx

* Blurb from imdb website. I couldn’t be bothered to write my own 🙂

Half a decade…

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Half a decade ago my first baby was born. A whole half decade of love; I cannot remember how life was without her. I sometimes look at the time before she was with us, and remember lay ins, hobbies, a tidy house, organisation and – a kind of lostness. Before Amelia I didn’t really know who I was or who I could be. I was scared that I didn’t know how to be a Mum, that I would mess it all up.

And I do mess it up sometimes. I shout when I should stay calm. I get cross where I should laugh. I get stressed at times. I’m human, and I’m still me.

But. I also laugh a lot. I love morning snuggles with little ones on my head, talking random chat. I wake to smiles, to love. I enjoy the company and chatter of my clever, lovely Daughter. I have loved watching her grow from a tiny baby – on her first night with us I didn’t sleep at all but just looked at her all night. And from then I knew I would do anything for her, she captured my heart. And she still captures my heart. I love my girl, and always will.

I don’t know what is in her future. But I do know that I will never ever stop loving my oldest baby. She is funny, kind, loving, stubborn, grumpy at times and clever. She is grown but still naïve yet – she believes that fairies come and eat the fairy cakes that she makes. She believes that I am a fairy who peeps In on her at School each day. She knows that she is loved.

We have had a busy few days. A birthday tea party, seeing the people we love the most in the world. Family that I know support us all, and love my girls as much as I do. Lots of fun, memories made. And a lucky and slightly spoilt little girl who has gone to bed very happy and tired.

Thank you to our families for loving Amelia as much as we do. Thank you for loving us too. We don’t know what we would do without you.

xx

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The ordinary moments -anxiety

Okay, so Im my head today I was going to write about something lovely. But then I thought that this is my blog, and this is ordinary for me at the moment. Sorry for the negativity, but everything can’t be perfect all of the time.

I work 2.5 days a week as a social worker for people with dementia. I love parts of my job, but since I returned after maternity leave part time I’ve found it really hard to manage – to sum it up I have a lot of cases which eat all of my time up, leaving no time for my supervisees or making dementia services better. On paper it’s perfect – a balance of home and work, but the reality is that I don’t manage at work, which impacts hugely on home.

I finish on a Wednesday lunchtime. And for a couple of days it’s usually okay. But then the anxiety starts to kick in. It starts as a niggle, thinking about if somebody has been okay, or thinking about how something may have gone. And then it grows – I start thinking of my to do list (always at about 20 tasks – never goes down). And I start to think about how I’m not managing – the time I have isn’t enough to do the kind of job I want to be able to do. And I’m drowning when I’m at work, unable to do everything.

And the anxiety just creeps up and up, and from Saturday night onwards I struggle. I start to dread Mondays. I don’t sleep well. I sometimes get snappy with my family as my mind is on work.

And I don’t like it. I hate the feeling, and I hate knowing that Monday is coming. I need to change my job and I know this, as my mental health is not always good. But I also don’t want to get another social work job until my girls are older – which means a pay cut. And possibly an increase in hours. I’m holding out until after Christmas, as this time of year is expensive. But it’s hard.

I am sorry to put all of this in my blog, but it is a normal part of my life over the past 3 months, and one I am struggling with.

To join in with the ordinary moments you can join in at mummy daddy me

Xxx

The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman.

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I am enjoying reviewing the books I have read lately – it gives me chance to reflect on the book a little more before moving on.

The Blurb

When time is running out, every moment is precious…


When Claire starts to write her Memory Book, she already knows that this scrapbook of mementoes will soon be all her daughters and husband have of her. But how can she hold onto the past when her future is slipping through her fingers…?

My Thoughts

The blurb doesn’t give much away does it. It is basically about a lay with early onset Alzheimer’s disease, and it records some of her journey.

I thought that this was a lovely book – it did touch a chord with me as I work with people with dementia and so I have met a lot of people and families on this journey already. I really liked Claire as the narrator – I loved that she is captured as a ‘real’ person and not just as someone who has been diagnosed with dementia. I also like how she doesn’t just maintain the relationships she has, but that they also grow and change, as do all things in life.

This book is so easy to read – the narrative is simple and straightforward. But the messages under the easy reading are difficult ones, and challenge readers to think about their values and the way they think about dementia. It challenges that dementia always has to disenable people – it shows that it is an awful and scary illness for everyone, but also that good things can still come from it.

‘ And now I know that I can hope, and I know that I will go on hoping, always hoping, that she will come back to me, one last time.’

‘I promise you, the world might crumble away around you, your brain and body might betray you, but your heart, your spirit…that is what will stay true.’

The not so good

In all honesty I don’t really have anything that I didn’t like. I liked everything – its just a lovely book to read. It is not a book that I would read again for a good while I think, but it is a book where the message will stay with me.

4 stars.

Meal Planning Monday..

Last week I did it 🙂 I mostly stuck to the plan for the week. The only change is that on Thursday we didn’t have beef stew -I can’t even remember what we had instead now though! The rest of the week went to plan though.

This week this is the plan:

Monday

Chilli con carne from the freezer for me and Craig after work.

Tuesday

What Craig makes.

Wednesday

Slow cooked beef stew and dumplings.

Thursday

Chicken pie (the filling was made and frozen) new potatoes and vegetables

Friday

Jacket potatoes, cheese and beans.

Saturday

Party tea  – my Daughter’s 5th birthday tea party.

Sunday

Leftover party food / picky day.

I do like to plan – it means I don’t have days where I don’t have a clue what to make! If you would like to join in, link up at http://www.athomewithmrsm.com/2014/11/meal-planning-monday-3rd-november-2014.html

Enjoy your week 🙂