All posts by sara

#Metoo

There has been a viral campaign sweeping the internet using the hashtag #metoo it’s a campaign to raise awareness of the number of women and men who have been victims of some form of sexual harassment or assault.

The hope is that  “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of magnitude of the problem.”

I am normally one of the first to join in with campaigns like this but I struggled with this  one. It took me a while to realise why I couldn’t join in and that reason was shame. 

I was ashamed that I was a victim.

I was ashamed it happened to me.

Sitting here writing this I cannot express how angry this has made me feel and how it is ,that it’s this shame and the fear of not being believed or supported that leads to so many not reporting their assault orharassment.

I was about eight years old when I first faced harassment. I was out playing on my bike when a local lad a few years older than me stopped me and held on to my bike. He then informed me and my friend in graphic detail what he was going to do to me. It was a horrific and violent account which left me frozen and in shock and thankfully as he was only holding my bike my friend rode off on hers to her parents and the police were later involved. I can remember the feeling of fear as if was yesterday, the violation of his words and I also remember wondering why me and what had I done wrong? I came across him later in life and  found myself physically shaking in the aisle of a supermarket still frozen from the memories.

The second time I faced harassment and assault was very different. A man I thought I loved and who loved me betrayed me in a way that I never could of imagined. A quiet unassuming man turned into my worst nightmare. Broken fingers and too many bruises later I finally escaped the situation. Again ashamed and embarrassed at what I perceived as my weakness I didn’t press charges or seek support. Somehow I felt I should have known better. Or in his words “shouldn’t have pushed him to this”.

I look back at these times in my life and i’m so frustrated at the woman I was, but the truth is only 24 hours ago I didn’t wish to join a campaign that challenged this, so have I really come any further in my development?

As a mom I hate the concept of any one hurting my children and I know very well I would launch straight into mama bear mode, so why didn’t, why don’t I give myself the same consideration?

Here is some harrowing statistics….

Rape Crisis England & Wales headline statistics 2016-17:

•Rape Crisis Centres across our network responded to their highest ever number of helpline calls during the year – 202,666 in total, or nearly 4,000 a week.

•Rape Crisis specialist services were accessed by 67,059 individuals, an increase of 16% from 2015-16.

•Rape Crisis Centres provided in excess of 450,000 sessions of specialist support, including advocacy, emotional support and counselling, an increase of 29% since 2015-16.

•Three-quarters of all adult service users contacted Rape Crisis Centres about sexual violence that took place at least 12 months earlier; 42% were adult survivors of child sexual abuse.

•The largest group that contact Rape Crisis Centres, now over half of service users (51%), is those who prefer to self-refer. This pattern has remained consistent over the past six years and continues to demonstrate the necessity for funded independent services.

•93 per cent of service users were female.

•Where age is known, 2,651 were aged 15 or under, an increase of 55% on last year; those aged under 25 represented 36% of service users. Over 30 times more children reported multiple assaults than last year – 904 compared with 29 in 2015-16.

•Where ethnicity is known, 20% of service users identified as Black or Minority Ethnic.

•25% of all service users identified as Disabled.

•The Rape Crisis England & Wales website received nearly 9 million hits during the year and an average of 32,765 unique visitors per month.

Here are some other key statistics about sexual violence:

•Approximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped in England and Wales alone every year; that’s roughly 11 rapes (of adults alone) every hour. These figures include assaults by penetration and attempts.

•Nearly half a million adults are sexually assaulted in England and Wales each year

•1 in 5 women aged 16 – 59 has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16

•Only around 15% of those who experience sexual violence choose to report to the police

•Approximately 90% of those who are raped know the perpetrator prior to the offence

These figures come from An Overview of Sexual Offending in England and Wales, the first ever joint official statistics bulletin on sexual violence released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Home Office in January 2013.

 

Only around 15% of those who experience sexual violence choose to report it to the police. This statistic makes me want to cry. Yet I know I am one of the 85% who didn’t report it and who in all honesty just wished it away.

Whilst the internet is now blowing up with articles on this new campaign, some supporting it, others saying its reducing the impact of the crime, I personally want to say thank you.

Thank you to women who have  gotten involved, seeing the #Metoo statuses on the social media of woman I class as strong, incredible, independent people has hit home that it can happen to anyone and that its not about weakness or that I some how caused it and also that I am not alone.

I do hope this campaign encourages people to speak out. I want it to educate others like myself that it was not our fault,.  I also want to see changes in the way sexual assault and harassment is dealt with. No woman, no one asks for it and no ones job, livelihood or reputation should ever be at risk from reporting a crime that was committed against them.

The criminal is not the victim it is the perpetrator and this is the one who should pay the price.

 

I want to hug you in real life.

Do you know one of the main things that frustrates me about the internet and social media in general? That some of the people I really would love to do life with often live miles away. People who I have connected with strongly are so far out of reach. How I wish I could turn my virtual hugs into real ones.

I have met some really incredible people via the internet. I get to follow some really inspiration women who have truly blessed my life. Some without knowing have got me through some extremely dark times.

I have had conversations with people that may not have happened in real life. Some finding vulnerability safer on line than in real life. Sharing their hearts filling mine with strength and courage.

I have been challenged by perceptions I would not have seen without the internet. Opinions and reasoning set out allowing me to educate myself without prejudice. Knowledge being as always the greatest power.

I have been inspired by those doing life in the only way they know how. Sharing the good, the bad and the ugly giving me freedom to admit to the reality of my life. The pain, the struggle.  Whilst not always easy  but celebrating the joy and the magic of the moments.

Yes the internet does have a dingy side, a side where bullying and trolling has its slimy place but these cowards can stay hiding behind their keyboards because they don’t scare me. Validation isn’t found in their mean nasty words.

Validation is found in your army, your keyboard warriors who stand beside you each day. Who reach out across the fibre optics across the broadband and reminds you that you have got this.

We have this.

But I do get frustrated at times, how I wish I could arrange one mighty dinner party and invite you all. Get to hear the laughter rather that read the ha ha’s or the lols. To give the hugs instead of virtually receiving them. To just be surrounded by all you weird and wonderful people.

But until then I’m celebrating the gift of the virtual world, the expanse of the internet and all you incredible people that I get to call friends.

My friends.

I believe in him

I sat through a professionals meeting a few weeks back where one of the “so called” professionals professed to tell me the limitations of my son. He can’t do this, cannot control that and he probably won’t do this. I have to admit my first reaction was to lose it but I decided to let her have her say before I spoke. You see it’s easy for people to look at my son and tell me what he cannot do but I want to work with someone who can tell me what he can or what he could.

I’m certainly not naive but I will refuse to have a so called professional have her opinion especially in this case when it’s formed after a 5 minute assessment.

Listening to this woman I was again aware of some of the preconceptions people have of children with special needs and how they extremely frustrate me.

How it’s so important to surround myself with people who believe in ‘never say never’ or the endless possibilities of life.

My friend and I were discussing our family conversation this weekend, this is part of our sons EHCP plans. Where the question is asked “what does your child want to be when older”? Let’s take into consideration that my child is 3 and hers is younger. Who the hell knows what they want to be at 3. Anyway we both giggled as we had both separately written astronaut, and why not (ps I love this about my friend). Yes maybe Daniel’s chronic lung disease would put a stop to this but who knows medical science is changing everyday. I’m sticking to my family motto of “never say never”.

Why do we place limitations on our children?

Why do their disabilities have to be what defines them?

You see to me Daniel is a cheeky little man who loves to flirt, especially with his nurses. His comic timing is perfection and his giggle well it warms your heart. He is also one of the strongest people I know entering this world at only 26 weeks and fighting against prematurity, meningitis and a heck of lot more. He has raged battles against his disabilities and his illnesses and thank God has been the victor.

Who would dare put limits on this boy!

I know I’m not, whatever the future holds I want to be surrounded by people who believe in my child.

Because I believe in him.

Babies #blogtober17

Twenty one years ago I became a mother, my daughter was placed in my arms and I finally knew why I was here. Holding this sweet child in my arms my heart, could have exploded, I never thought I could experience love like this but it only multiplied with each child.

My babies will always be my babies their ages are irrelevant in this, 21 or 3 they are my heart.

Motherhood came so natural, not saying that I didn’t and don’t feel like I mess it up at times. I honestly didn’t believe I would survive the teenage years. But I am so proud of each and everyone of them.

It is rather strange having a 21 year old and a 3 year old but I’m loving being back in the midst of toddlerhood.

My babies bring me so much joy but they have also challenged and taught me more than I could have ever imagined.

My work is testimony to all that they have taught me. I know get now to love on those children who need it. My babies being extended through fostering and now adoption.

How amazing is this!

All about me, Day 1 #Blogtober17

So its October, how in the world did that happen?

I love October the seasons are changing and the world becomes awash with colour and its the start of #Blogtober17.

So whats #Blogtober17 I hear you ask? It is a month of daily blog posts following set prompt. This means that I am aiming to blog daily, woo hoo yes a blog a day.

So lets kick this month off with the first prompt “ All about me”.

To be honest I could just send you to my about me page but decided that really wasn’t on ha ha. Also in fact its been a year of so much change that maybe an update would be rather useful.

So who am I.

Right now I am a blond haired mamma of 5 I state my hair colour simply because after 12 years of having black hair I am slowly adjusting. I have four amazing girls all at different stages in their lives. I am so proud of them all reaching for their own dreams whilst being rather awesome human beings. To be truthful there were moments where I didn’t think I would survive their teenage years but thankfully I, we did and I do rather like them all. Obviously my youngest at 16 still is at a crucial period but I am hoping the experience from the older two has given me some semblance of patience or the ability to pick my battles.

I’m also now officially mom to an adorable three year old boy, this boy has blessed my life in so many ways. From the moment he came to visit he has had a place in my heart. Its been a journey working through the adoption process but I can put my hand on my heart and say this boy is my son. He may not have been born from my womb but he was certainly born in my heart. I am excited to watch him grow and develop. His character is certainly forming and he is surprising doctors at all times. My boy rocks.

This year has been one of extreme personal growth, the adoption process challenged me in ways I never expected. Without sounding pathetic I have never felt good enough in life, there I was in front of professionals asking them to find me good enough to be mom to my gorgeous boy. Standing there in that court room hearing the judge announce him as my son will stand as one of the greatest moments ever.

Working through the process of adoption has made me question a lot, who am I?

What do I want from life and what fulfils me?

This has challenged me greatly, I usually just go with the flow but this often leaves me feeling unfulfilled and frustrated. I have learnt this year that saying No is ok. That I don’t have to people please all the time especially when it takes me away from doing things I really want to do. Also its ok to turn to others for support and guidance and that it isn’t weakness.

Wow did I really write that, so on that note.

So thats a little about me..

Losing my balance

There is a saying that “if you want to make God laugh tell him your plans”. Well I think the same should be said for Daniel as soon as I told him about my excitement to attend Blog on Xmas last weekend we then ended up on our local children’s ward.

All joking aside whilst I was gutted to miss the blogging conference being by his side is exactly where I want to be.

Thankfully he is doing ok but it’s another reminder of how life likes to throw you curve balls.

Daniel has a form of diabetes that needs balancing, too much or too little can cause us an issue.

Finding balance isn’t easy but it’s a life lesson we all really need.

It’s been a busy couple of months in my chaotic household it’s not an over exaggeration to say I survived summer by the skin of my teeth. I’m exhausted and emotional not a great combination.

Finding balance has been far from easy.

Life is being a little strange right now, relationships are changing and I’m hurting myself with expectations that often get crushed. My lack of balance is affecting my clarity I’m trying to see the wider picture which isn’t that easy when you are smack in the middle of the situation. Taking a step back isn’t always my first decision and hindsight is just that , hindsight.

Plans can and will change and whilst I thought I was getting better at accepting this I’ve realised I’m holding on to so many things that I really need to let go.

Change is inevitable so I must learn to flow with waves and just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Complete?

Someone asked me the other day if I now felt complete after adopting our little one and I didn’t know how to answer. 

You see Daniel has blessed my life in so many ways but he cannot fill the hole left by Livvy, nor should he.

Each of my children have their own unique place in my heart and Daniels adoption was never about filling the void left by Livvy.

Daniel is his own kind of wonderful he has brought a new sense of joy to my life. His smiles do lighten the darkest of days but he isnt Livvy and he never will be.

Losing Livvy took a part of me that can never be replaced. I know that my missing piece is waiting for me in heaven but until that day my heart will never be whole,  never be complete. This missing piece is shaped by blond curls and piercing blue eyes. By a smile full of mischief and mayhem. 

My Livvy shaped hole cries out to hear the infectious laughter that used to fill the air. My heart aches to be whole but the loss of a child leaves a void that can never be refilled.

Daniel is a truly wonderous gift but to see him as a replacement is wrong. Livvy cannot and never will be replaceable but also Daniels value is so much more than that of a stand in.

My cheeky brown eyed boy is his very own kind of magical. His smile can break down my barriers in seconds. His singing and his teasing of his sisters are moments my heart cherishes. Daniel is my son, my beautiful curly haired boy. 

He does often remind me of Livvy, his mischeviousness for one and these moments often do bring back memories that I hold dear, but he isnt tied to the past. He has a future of moments to be made into memories. He will learn of his missing sister just as he will learn of the three here to love upon him. Livvy willl be alive with him as she is with us in memories and stories shared. I will tell him of her character, challenge him with her courage and share with him how im sure she played a part in him becoming mine.

So no I am not complete but I am one very thankful woman, I am so grateful that I get to be mom to four equally incredible girls and now i’m also mom to one completely gorgeous boy.

I am so very lucky.

A special field

This weekend I received some news I knew was coming yet never wanted to hear. My friends child had passed away, disappeared into the hours of the morning leaving behind a heartbroken mother. My friend knew she didn’t have forever but was praying desperately for one more day.

One more day.

How often I would wish for Livvy one more day, one more hug, one more giggle.

How often do i allow grief to consume my heart?

Too often .

This last week I have been camping in a special field in Shropshire, the field itself isn’t rather special but for a week or two each year it transforms into something rather remarkable.

From the grassy emptiness it becomes full with love, laughter and friendship.

It overflows with energy, life and living.

For this time each year this field becomes a place where friendships are forged in life experiences.

This field becomes a place where children the world tells cannot, CAN.

This field is rather dangerous though, it is rife with infection, a infectious disease known as hope.

It creeps up into your soul and you start to believe that anything is possible.

Children who can not communicate start to talk, children who cannot walk take steps.

Parents close to breaking become refreshed, families divided are reunited.

This field has no barriers, its a place where everyone gets to be exactly who they were made to be. Not everyone gets on but there is a freedom in acceptance. We are all walking our own pathways and sometimes they can be overwhelming, but here on this field thats ok. You can cry, scream or break down, complete in the knowledge that we all get it.

Over the last week I have become a people watcher, I have observed shy children blossom in confidence, from the first awkward hello to beginnings of life long friendships.

From fire pits to bouncy castles friendship has flowed around this field, some already a lifetime in the making, others being created in that moment.

I have heard so much laughter than even in my grief it has lifted my spirit.

We have had fancy dress from the cute to the never to be unseen, quiz nights, animals and magic. We have hosted our own special Olympics with a level of competitiveness and determination I still can not get over. A child may not be able to walk but they can scream with joy at whizzing over the ground determined to get a medal on their chest.

A balloon release so painful yet so beautiful, how can the most painful part of the week be the most amazing? My heart breaks as I watch those balloons lift up into the sky, my soul aches for my Livvy so desperately I can hear it scream. Yet as my eyes drop to those around me I am struck by how wonderful life is. How everyone standing there beside me gets it somehow. Some may have experienced a loss, others may live in fear of it.

Yet fear of death isn’t found on this field, fear isn’t welcome here.

This field, this camp is about living.

Its about packing life into every moment.

Its about cherishing one another and holding on to what really matters.

The world isn’t allowed on our field, for a week each year we are protected from the daily battles our lives bring to our doors. People who don’t understand don’t visit this sacred place, every chair is filled with people that understand or accept.

Different struggles, different issues, different lives but we are united in our love, our love for our unique wonderful courageous children.

Our special kids. 

 

  • A big thank you to  all at Lower Lacon caravan park for looking after our special field for us all. For welcoming us in a way I have never experienced on any campsite anywhere else and for also being just truly wonderful people that I am pleased to call my friends.

Weaning fun

This year we have been given the go ahead to really start weaning my little one. Although we don’t think he will be able to eat enough to fulfil his needs it is exciting that he can try new taste’s and experience different textures.

So starting on this journey I was rather chuffed to see that the highly-anticipated Aldi Baby & Toddler Event is returning to stores across the UK.

They have a fantastic range of products which will be perfect for our journey into weaning.

The event  will be starting online from the 10th August and in stores across the UK from the 17th August.

Weaning Daniel is going to be different from when I weaned my girls as he will only be able to eat small amounts so storage and the ability to make my own puree’s is a must, as so far I am wasting a lot of the jars and pouches I have opened.

Daniel seems to be enjoying his tastes and tries and so far we seem to be loving strong flavours and not liking pumpkin but we will see. Todays banana was a big hit.

The smile says it all.

 

 

  • I was gifted the goodies from Aldi’s for the purpose of this shout out about the baby and toddler event but all opinions about it being awesome and well worth a visit are my own.

How I keep my husband happy.

My husband has always been supportive of my writing, my blogging but never as much as he has been this week when I had the opportunity to review FFX one of the UK’s largest independent suppliers of high quality tools, fixings & building supplies.

From our first date I learned that my husband loved tools, then a window fitter by trade, tools were literally his bread and butter. Birthday and Christmas lists often had a power tool or two on them. Now even though his profession has changed greatly he loves nothing better than throwing his work clothes on and disappearing into his man cave a.k.a the shed.

So when I approached him about reviewing FFX he was rather excited and disappeared onto the website in minutes.

So what does he think of the site ?

He found the website easy to navigate and the search function was really helpful. The selection of tools was vast and also covered a range of budgets. The checkout was easy and free UK delivery was an added bonus. Compared to a number of other tool suppliers of which he knows rather well he found FFX prices to be really competitive. I personally realised the site had been a hit with him when he asked me how to bookmark it, something I may live to regret later.

So after a lot and I mean a lot of browsing Alan finally decided his immediate need (want) was a jigsaw. After I established what one was, I was then treated to a slideshow of his top picks when finally he chose the Bosch GST150BCE 240v 780w 150mm Professional Jigsaw.

Following on his previous experience of Bosch tools he already had trust in the brand and this was an heavy duty jigsaw with the pendulum action which he required. 

Honestly waiting for the delivery was agonising for him, we travelled for our daughters graduation and a number of times he mentioned he had a jigsaw waiting at home for him.

Lets just say he was one happy bunny when the jigsaw was finally in his hands.

So what does he think of the jigsaw?

His first answer to this question was “absolutly flipping awesome” which is fine but not great for one trying to write a review.

So lets talk about the  Bosch GST150BCE 240v 780w 150mm Professional Jigsaw.

Features and Benefits:

•High power reserves, even in hard and thick beams, due to powerful and overload-capable 780-watt motor

•Extremely robust and bend-resistant sole plate for the toughest jobs

•High cutting precision due to new saw blade clamping system

•Tool-free saw blade clamping system for easy and fast saw blade changes

•Ergonomic grip area with softgrip surfaces for a high level of comfort during use

•4-stage pendulum action for fine through to coarse cuts

•Electronic speed preselection

The jigsaw’s four stage pendulum action impressed Alan greatly as it really does make a difference and eases your cutting.

The strength of the motor made cutting through wood as simple as cutting through paper. No pressure was needed as the motor did all the work.

Alan loved the quick change blade system, after years of needing allan keys which he could never find this was something that impressed him.

The jigsaw comes complete with a blade and a vacuum attachment which he hasn’t played with yet but is rather excited about. Also a plastic base, glide shoe to protect your project.

A nice long lead which gives you space to move around your projects.

Variable speed, which allows you more accuracy when starting your cut.

Feels comfortable in your hand with a good grip.

It also come in a heavy duty case which has extra space for your extra bits, blades etc.

So as you can see in Alan’s words “Its flipping awesome”.

To be fair even I was impressed when checking out the quality and durability of the jigsaw.

So all in all I now have one happy husband and I also may get a number of household jobs done.

Win win.

Seriously though as one who loves online shopping I was impressed with FFX website,service and delivery. Alan as a tool lover, was super happy with his new jigsaw and is now happily planning his next purchase, need, want.