Today is the last day of the school holidays in our house and the last week of the uni holidays. So whilst the lovely girl prepares to return to school (in not the greatest of humour it has to be said but with a new haircut – 4 inches of her lovely blonde hair cut off!), the politics student is allegedly revising for exams and the young engineer has become an employer today. I can’t quite believe that our little boy, the young adult who acts so daft at home, is now an IT entrepreneur with a business partner and an employee….I guess all parents must feel this at some time.
For our house, a sign that the new year is well and truly under way is when we reach the birthday of my best friend’s daughter on the 10th and hubby’s birthday on 11th January. We went to the Pizza Express part of the 9th birthday party yesterday, deciding to skip the ice skating at Hampton Court Palace to avoid the cold – and yours truly was the “best auntie ever” for the cake. This year I was tasked with “A Series of Unfortunate Events” for the theme, and fortunately my mob have all read the books and watched some of the Netflix show. My lovely girl helped with painting the decorations on the sides and we were very pleased with our efforts, particularly when all the party guests recognised the characters. This year is a big one for hubby (and me too later in the year – yes, 21 again) but more of that next week!
I wrote a long post for the Versatile blogger award yesterday and tagged various bloggers (who I thought hadn’t been nominated before) so I’m sharing one of each of their posts with you today. So grab a cuppa, relax and enjoy!
A few weeks back I was nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award by the wonderful Nikki, the Brainless Blogger.
I met her on the “chronic illness” circuit – have a look at her site The Brainless Blogger here – but she also writes fantasy fiction and you can find some of her work under her pen name Lil Hamilton. I think you will agree her own Versatile Blogger award is very well deserved. Thank you, Nikki, so much for nominating me!
1. If you are nominated, congratulations – you have been awarded the Versatile blogger award!
2. Thank the person who gave you the award and include a link to their blog.
3. Select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
4. Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.
5. Tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.
At the beginning of the New Year many bloggers reflect on the year that has just gone before and think ahead to set goals and/or resolutions for the year to come. I thought that I would try to do something slightly different and incorporate my seven Versatile blogger answers with my New Year post! So here goes…….
I have a chronic genetic condition, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which means that rather than producing connective tissue that is elastic, mine is more akin to chewing gum. It can affect any body part that has collagen/connective tissue. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t dislocate one joint or another, or experience a pain free day but my first major problem came aged 21 resulting in major back surgery, nerve root damage and chronic pain. Whilst a consultant picked up that I had a “syndrome” when I worked in his theatre as a student nurse, ironically it wasn’t until 20 years later that I was formally diagnosed at my old training hospital, University College London!
I was a nurse in a former life. It still hurts to say “was” rather than “am” – one of my greatest sadnesses to come with chronic health and disability has been losing my career and registration. My passion was “head and neck” cancer nursing and later Palliative care – I was privileged to work in both specialities for many years. 2018 marked 30 years since the start of my nurse training and I was so fortunate to be well enough to spend a weekend with some friends from my nursing set, to visit the hospital and a few of our old haunts!
I am a book worm! Remember the days before mobile phones using a torch under the bed covers to read? I was one of those kids! I still prefer proper books really, but will admit to reading nearly everything on my Kindle as easier for dodgy joints – but I remain a bit OCD with my books as I can’t stand for anyone to crease the spine let alone fold down a page corner! These days I write the odd review, belong to book clubs and will read just about anything. I go into 2019 pleased that I made my personal 2018 reading challenge (on goodreads) and hopeful that I can continue reading and reviewing.
I am a mum to 3 young adults aged 22, 19 and 16. This last year I have felt the most pride as a mum and also the most stress and angst as a mum to date – these kids don’t come with a manual and it definitely doesn’t get easier as they get older. I guess my parents would agree!! Let’s hope that the next 12 months are less of a rollercoaster….
I love dogs. All shapes, sizes and colours. I am currently broody for a pup but our old (16 years) collie cross Samson is not in agreement with his mum. He is my constant companion – a completely batty boy with special needs who we rescued aged 6 – and has seen me through the years since I was forced to retire. He is completely in tune with my bad days and is very protective of me. We also have a surrogate boy, the beautiful viszla Chester, who we have looked after for friends a couple of times a week since he was 6 months (Sam goes to Grandma on those days!) – we love him to bits. Being at home, sometimes for long stretches, I couldn’t imagine being without a furry friend at my side!
I make celebration cakes. Not professionally, but for friends and family. I have always made birthday cakes for my kids, but when I had to stop working I started to play about with some more ideas and experiment with icing. The strangest request was from a friend wanting a “Tesco” carrier bag for her husband!! The icing is becoming more and more difficult though as my joints deteriorate – rolling out a sheet is nigh on impossible with a dislocated shoulder, so I’m trying to teach hubby! Fingers crossed that I will be able to make a few masterpieces (ha, ha, ha) in 2019.
My guilty pleasure is binge watching box sets – Netflix and Prime have become my best friends in recent years and I blame my daughter for the binge watching! These days it is much harder to join in with family activities, so it is great to be able to spend time on the sofa with my lovely girl…..some favourites for us in 2018 were the finale of Sense 8, the German series “Dark” and “You are Wanted”, “Travelers” and “Anne with and E”. We are both looking forward for the next season of Dark to be released in March!
There you have it – seven things about me, with a bit of looking back and looking forward thrown in. Maybe I should have said that I don’t make resolutions – I’ve never been able to stick to them beyond the first week of January so years ago I just thought why set myself up to fail?! I am happy if I can go into the new year with some positivity and hope!
Tagged Bloggers who are versatile and interesting – great if you take part, no problem if you don’t. You are all still versatile!
New Year’s Eve 2018….how did this happen? The year has flown by. I remember as a child hearing my grandmother and her sister saying that the older they got the quicker time flew, and I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about. Now with each passing year, I understand them more and more – I even sound like them!
This last week of 2018 hasn’t gone quite to plan – just the usual faints, dislocations, pain and kids! – but does any festive season? A highlight to kick off Christmas was a visit to watch the Bolshoi ballet performing The Nutcracker – Mum and I might have been watching in our local Odeon cinema, but the joy of live streaming meant that we were able to watch as events unfolded live direct from the Bolshoi theatre in Moscow. We were blown away by the host who skipped from Russian to French to Spanish to English without drawing breath, I was exhausted just trying to keep up with her but the dancers were something else as they twisted and turned to the classic Tchaikovsky score.
This year a first in our house happened as Santa got fed up with waiting for the last of the youngsters to arrive home, probably getting into bed at the time that they would have been getting up only a few years ago and so the stocking delivery was made at 8am Christmas morning. It comes to something when mum and dad are sat sipping coffee and waiting for the kids to emerge! Another first was the grand outing of the new power wheelchair to make the trip to my parents’ for our Christmas meal.
There was much hilarity, particularly on the way home as my joystick skills left a bit to be desired……
Here I sit on New Year’s Eve in my PJs watching Madness on the BBC and the fireworks along the Thames in London and although I may have had to miss a party, I can still raise a glass of bubbly with hubby (kids all out!), find some great blog posts to see you into 2019 and wish you all a very Happy New Year!
The tree is up, new lights adorn the outside of the house and the Christmas cards are written. The young engineer returned home and found glitter and sparkle adorning the house – much to his disgust….Mr Grinch!! but then he has the cheek to criticise the lights in our hallway – too bright, too harsh – and presented me with a box of soft white lights to use instead. Not a “I’ll change them for you, Mum” but rather a “put these up – they’ll look nicer”. Needless to say the lights have not been changed.
This weekend brought the return of the middle child – the politics student – home from university for Christmas. An enormous suitcase returned on the coach with him and I have a sneaky feeling that his entire wardrobe is in there ready for the washing machine. I wonder how quickly the clothes will make their way downstairs and into said washer? Hopefully before the smell invades the rest of the house!
Hubby and I have worked our strategy for the Christmas shopping – early, local trips that don’t last too long and then home to collapse for the rest of the day. I think that he will find himself doing more of the wrapping this year! A couple of achievements have been that we managed my old school carol service last week and a family meal out last night with our kids, the eldest’s other half, mum and dad, and my brother and nephew.
The preparations for Christmas can be stressful – the food, family dynamics, shopping, expense, parties, having enough hours in the day. If you read my post yesterday – a letter to my chronic illness – you may have some understanding that this stress can be so much worse when paired with health problems, physical and mental. Amongst the posts this week are several offering suggestions to help cope with stress, to plan and to make checklists. There is a fab post of creepy Christmas legends, some wonderful magical moments and some lovely Christmas poems.
So grab an eggnog or some mulled wine, sit back and with a week to go enjoy some great Christmas posts.
How are your Christmas preparations going? Are you the type of very organised person who has already bought and wrapped the gifts? Or maybe you are more like our household…..
The lovely girl has just returned from Vienna where she and class mates enjoyed a trip to the Christmas markets and the historic city. When I asked her if she bought anything the answer was an incredulous”no”…. why on earth would you think to buy any gifts in a Christmas market? But she did have a fantastic time, returned exhausted and is now full of cold! Despite now earning money, Christmas shopping will pass the young engineer by completely until I get a panicked call on the 23rd or 24th December asking for ideas for everyone and “also, mum, do you have any wrapping paper?”. Our politics student isn’t due home until next week and has several pieces of coursework to hand in by the end of term – I believe it is known as pulling all nighters or as lastminute.com! He has always been the best at organising Christmas shopping but with his current lack of finances……..
Then are the Christmas cards to write and post. “Kids do you want some cards to send to friends/customers/family? Maybe you could help me write some” “Mum, why would I want to do that?” “No one sends cards to each other!!” – you get the picture, although they did work out that sending cards to customers on their newspaper rounds could result in Christmas tips. So we in the PainPals household are not evenly slightly prepared, although hubby and I did purchase some new lights last week and counted the vast number of houses already well adorned on our trip up to London on Saturday night.
This trip to Westminster was my big achievement of the week as hubby and I went to see the very talented Katie Melua in concert, supported by the Georgian Gory women’s choir. Together they made sounds that were almost too pure to be human voices – absolutely stunning! Yours truly made a new friend in the form of an elderly lady as we found our wheelchairs parked up close and definitely in each other’s personal space. She couldn’t understand why the choir weren’t singing something more “jolly” for Christmas – I did try to explain that Katie Melua sings a particular type of popular music and the choir back her! Her ticket had been booked by a well meaning son and she had no idea what she was coming to see, but we had a giggle!
I have been gathering some more Christmas related blog posts for you over the week and hope that you will find something here to enjoy!
It is December and many households have begun the month with the opening of Advent calendars. Gone are the calendars of my childhood where a picture of an angel or a sleigh nestled behind a cardboard door, to be replaced with calendars filled with chocolates, beauty gifts and some even alcoholic delicacies. For the first time in years I am the only one in the house with a calendar and mine contains pamper gifts, perfect for a chronic spoonie who is in need of a bit of “me time”. To the embarrassment of the adult kids, I am posting pictures of the lovely little bottles of niceness on Instagram each day!
This week hubby and I had a double cause for excitement on a night out into London. It was a Christmas/thank you drinks evening hosted by the young IT engineer and his business partner in the 5cc bar situated in the grade II listed Singer sewing machine building in the City, London. As “the parents” it felt rather surreal! Our boy turned into a man in front of our eyes as he and his partner spoke with the investors, clients and share holders for their new tech enterprise. Whilst the young engineer lacks in confidence in his ability to speak with people yet speaks “computer” as a native tongue, his partner compliments him beautifully with a personable, confident, easy manner and effortless, articulate way at speaking with and putting others at ease. Hopefully their combined ideas, IT acumen and youthful ambition will be a winning combination for a successful venture – just don’t ask me to explain what they are actually doing!! We were very proud parents – who actually didn’t put a foot in it, at least not too deeply, and were actually described as “cool”.
This was our very first venture out on the train with my wheelchair! We have tended to drive into London since my mobility had decreased and pain increased, but the thought of driving into the City at rush hour and then seeking out a disabled parking bay was not appealing. We travelled on the Thameslink line, which is a newer line and as such has modern trains with designated accessible carriages, and I appreciate that this makes travelling easier than it might be on older lines. But I can’t fault the assistance that we were given by rail staff – someone was waiting on the platform with ramps to see me onto the train and he phoned ahead so that another staff member was waiting on the platform for us at our destination. Our journey was comfortable and relaxed, taking a fraction of the time that driving through rush hour London would have…..we will take the train again!
Sticking with our December theme, the blogs that I shall share leading up to Christmas will be as wide a variety of winter festival posts that I can find. They won’t all be about the joys of the season, as for some it is a difficult time, but I hope to bring you some great reading! Enjoy.
This post should just about make it to you for Monday – depending upon which time zone you live in! My brain fog has continued, several painsomnia nights later and an eye/sinus infection have left the blog low on the to do list. Actually using the computer screen has been a chore with head and eye pain…..then add in my almighty cock up with my drugs and a few hours of pregabalin withdrawal – you get the picture!!
This week my nephew turned 8 and celebrated with a Laser Quest party for 15 little live wires. This crumbly Auntie didn’t manage the trip (for the second year running)….but I did manage to make his birthday cake and sent it with hubby, the best Uncle in the world on that day. For a simple, yet really effective cake that appeals to any kid, young or old, who likes sweets….make a “box of chocolates/jellies/sweets”! If you would like a post with instructions leave me a message in the comments. One of the worst parts of chronic illness is having to cancel plans for special occasions when symptoms take over. However watching Strictly Come Dancing with my Mum was probably slightly more relaxing than the aftermath of the party and the subsequent present frenzy!! I have to just say here – I loved Stacey Dooley’s tango…you won’t know what I’m talking about unless you are a UK Strictly fan!
I am currently writing another post for you following a special Accessibility day at Gatwick airport last week and probably the biggest excitement to come out of this has been our purchase of an electric wheelchair. More of this to come. Meanwhile I have caught up with some blogs today as my vision has improved (have you used that chloramphenicol ointment – eughhh, gunky eyes and stings like hell!) and I hope that you enjoy these posts as much as I have. I plan a Christmas blogs post, but have included the advent calendar one here as you might want one sooner rather than later! I have been a very lucky girl and was bought a beauty calendar by my gorgeous friend Holly – lovely surprise gift….I will fill you in on the gifts as I open them!
Welcome back, friends – I have been on an unintentional blog break for two weeks. Unintentional as life, fatigue and brainfog took over – I just was unable to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. Then there are the constant demands of a family – hubby, dogs and “big” kids.
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The biggest kid, the young tech engineer, continues to spend half his week working from home, the other half in London as he and a tech pal continue to grow their new IT start up. He just spent the weekend in the Peak District walking with 9 nine others through the mud and rain – a good time was had by all. The smallest kid, the lovely girl, is currently working her way through German TV dramas on Netflix for her A level German “wider experience” – this weekend it has been Deutschland 83. I saw it on TV but have been happy to watch again as the soundtrack takes me back to my teens in the 80s – the plot is great too!
Hubby managed a visit to the politics student last week. It was supposed to be an overnight stay to break a long journey there and back to the north of England – and could well have included a pub crawl of Nottingham. Hubby took the middle kid out for dinner and in true student style he ate everything put in front of him, but when they arrived back at the “digs” the number of young people staying in the house had grown to the point where hubby didn’t fancy his chances of 1. sleeping and 2. getting anywhere near the bathroom. He was very relieved to be climbing into bed next to his wife at 1 am rather than in with his 19 year old son!
What about the dogs? Well our old dog has been on his holidays to grandparents the last two weekends, whilst we have been vizsla sitting….firstly for Chester and then for Jensen. Sam is now back and in his favourite spot in the window asleep on his bed – at 16, he is probably well over 100 in human years so can be forgiven for turning up his nose when the back door is opened to a rain swept garden!
I haven’t been very active with blog reading or commenting, but I have found some lovely posts that I hope you will enjoy them! Commemorations have taken place globally this weekend for both Remembrance Day and the 100 years since the end of the first World War, so it seems fitting to share some posts to mark this. So sit back, grab a cuppa and have a good read….
It is the final couple of days of October, here in the UK the clocks have gone back and the early mornings are darker, Halloween means Trick or Treaters will be on our doorsteps within days….and November beckons. Despite the drop in temperature, I can’t believe that winter is nearly upon us and that there are Christmas jumpers in the shops!
My family know that I am a huge Strictly Come Dancing fan and I love the Halloween show, so Saturday night was one of the highlights of the year for me. The dance of the night had to be the new couple’s choice Musical theatre & Jazz number from Faye and Giovanni, but as with every series there are a couple of contestants with no dance experience who are positively shining. I mean of course star of social media, Joe Sugg, and the wonderful gritty news reporter, Stacey Dooley, who are both taking to dance like naturals. Joe has a wonderful frame with a real Marfanoid look to his neck and limbs, whilst we are more accustomed to seeing Stacey squaring up to drugs gangs or on the frontline rather than dressed as a time lord (Dr Who) and strutting a tango under the glitter ball. I am kicking myself that once again I left it too late to book accessible tickets for the live tour shows in London – I really can’t manage not to be in my wheelchair these days – please someone remind me to make that call next year!
Joe Sugg (google images)
Stacey Dooley (google images)
We were joined by a gaggle of 16 year old girls for part of the Halloween show on Saturday before they took over the kitchen with vegan food and an oven load of chips. It is unbelievable just how much noise these girls can make and then add in the incessant barking of our geriatric dog as he joins in the fun ……well, I think you can begin to imagine how far away they could be heard. Meanwhile the young engineers (son and boyfriend) were on a party crawl with invites to 4 Halloween affairs in London. It is now Monday afternoon and he has just walked through the door…..
I think that I have found some fantastic posts for you this week – some from old friends and some are new to me. There are some suggestions for activities with kids, ghostly writing and a beautiful poem. I have also focused on posts that look at making a difference – for yourself and others, so sit back with a cuppa, put your feet up and enjoy!
Welcome back to a new week and another Monday Magic! It is a beautiful day here in the South East of the UK and a fantastic start for half term. Of course here in the PainPals house there is only one child on half term and being a teen, we will be lucky to be graced by her presence before lunchtime no matter the weather. The paper round will be done, but then it is back to bed!
For me the week revolved around a dinner at my old school celebrating 40 years of c-education and as one of the original 10 year old girls back in the day, it has been a pleasure to contact others from my generation.
I had fun creating collages from photographs sent to me by old friends and enjoyed a wonderful trip down memory lane with old staff and old friends. Our old headmaster added to this with his speech – several of the boys, now middle aged men, were just as badly behaved during this as they were 39 years ago! – and recalled the incident in the school hall where we all sat for an end of year assembly when suddenly the hall doors flew open and in stalked a rather glamorous young lady. Making her way up the middle aisle between the students, she slowly started to disrobe to the sniggers of the whole school whilst the head was slowly gathering his wits and said he wondered if she was a strippergram or a kissogram. Meanwhile the school deputy, an altogether smaller, older and very conservative man, literally flew from the stage flapping his black gown around him. I can’t remember seeing him without his gown and he always reminded me of a raven about to take flight as he dashed along the outdoor pathways, ruffling out his gown behind him. On this occasion the gown was wrapped around the young lady and he bundled her out the back of the hall into a waiting classroom. The head was a bit disgruntled – well he never discovered if she was a kissogram or strippergram! – as many pupils knew that the 6th form boys had arranged this stunt, including his own young son who kept the secret completely. Little tyke!! We never found out what the deputy did with said young woman after he bundled her out at speed. It never fails to amaze me how the years just fall away when old friends catch up, and we girls had a really tight bond as there were so few of us – only 8 initially and 4 of us attended the dinner.
Lovely to see old friends and feel like a teen for a few minutes! The chronic body stood up to a whole night out very well – not sure if that was down to adrenaline or wine – but needless to say the high is generally followed by a fall, or crash, and this has given me time to find some blogs which I have enjoyed.
So sit back with a cuppa and have a look at these great sites – I hope that you enjoy the variety as much as I did!