Capture those moments

My friend today shared a photo of Livvy and I today on her Facebook, its so lovely to see but it does really hit home of one of the greatest mistakes I made in Livvy’s life.

Not being in photographs with her.

You see I think I have three or maybe four photos of Livvy and I. My fear of being photographed actually has robbed me of precious memories of my darling girl.

How often do you find yourself saying “ I will take the photo” “Oh not with me, I’ve not done my hair, makeup.” I have an endless list of escape sentences that I now regret so much.

You see my daughters didn’t care how I looked they just wanted memories that I was visible in. I wouldn’t have cared how I looked to have images of me holding my precious girl, moments I could close my eyes and recapture in my mind.

Yet I cannot go back no matter how often I wish I could, but I can make changes and slowly I have been, pushing myself in front of the camera instead of behind.

Adopting Daniel and the level of his complexity has hit home again the fact that we are not promised forever and so I have made sure we all have precious memories to hold on too. So this is why for Mother’s Day this year I treated myself to a Mother and child photoshoot and its been one of the most amazing things I have done and honestly  I will cherish the images forever.

Choosing a photographer you trust is paramount especially if you are like me and are petrified of having your photo took. I went with Baby tree photography .

Liza is so amazing, we came across her when she photographed a friends christening and she is so lovely, she captured Daniel’s dedication in September and the characters of the guests were just so visible in her images and Daniel well is just completely gorgeous anyway.

I attended her studio a little nervous but within minutes I was relaxed and actually excited. I did wonder how Daniel would react to the day as he gets sensory overload and often just switches off in new environment but he was a complete star and honestly I think the images speak for themselves. I cannot thank Liza enough I look at the photos and my heart just beats with joy. The moment she captured will be a moment I get to forever cherish “A Mama and her son.”.

Honestly if I can challenge you all to do something this year it would be to capture those moments, don’t be like me wishing you had.

 

Living like Livvy

So it’s finally here, a years worth of work, a lifetime of memories all collated together in “Living with Livvy.”

I’m so excited to share my girlie with you all, for you to read and learn how incredibly brave and courageous she was. I’m also feeling extremely vulnerable as well. Here in these pages I have not held back, I have opened my heart and my soul and its laid bare for you all to see.

It’s not been an easy journey, i have returned to places in my mind I was trying to hide from. Revisiting some of the hardest moments I have every faced.

Yet it will be worth it, if this book educated one more person about Rett Syndrome if it raises more funds for Reverse Rett Uk it will be worth it.

So people, I am laying out my heart and soul here for you all so please, please support me in this venture. Go visit Amazon and purchase my book and help me raise much needed funds, help me help those working tirelessly to one day have Rett syndrome cured. One day have this diagnoses be one not of fear.

It can happen and it will happen,  let’s help  make it so.

Please visit Amazon and purchase the book, please let your friends, family, coworkers know about the book. Share this post on your social media, lets get “Living like Livvy” out into the hearts of minds of everyone. Lets make Livvy”s legacy really one of hope, lets do her proud.

I nearly lied to my daughter

I nearly did it again last night,

I caught the words as they were just about to tumble out of my mouth.

I almost lied to my daughter

Lied to her again.

“ It will be alright’

“it will be ok” 

“ You have got this”.

Why do I do this?

Why do I make statements that I know not to be true?

You see life isn’t easy.

It can be cruel and harsh.

It hurts and causes us pain

and sometimes there is nothing we do can change that.

Right now for my girl its the pressure of GCSE’s that suck, but my telling her that all will be ok does not actually make any difference to the outcome.

Yes GCSE suck but me promising her a rosy ending isn’t true.

Of course her results are not the end of the world but the truth is that they do make a difference to her future.

She has to work her way through the endless hours of revision and hopefully she will get the results at the end of it.

 

There is no gain without pain. 

Benjamin Franklin

 

We  all have to make choices  on how to live life.

How to walk the journey.

Sometimes we will make what we believe are the easy choices but I believe that those are only the shortsighted ones.

For my daughter throwing in the towel in on her GCSE’s seems attractive, she gets to stop stressing and stop putting the hard work in, but her future wont be as easy without those grades.

Yet these GCSE’s are only the beginning of a life of challenges and obstacles and decisions she will have to make. She is going to have to face many choices in life, moments that will hurt her heart and leave her scarred. By lying to her i am not going to make these moments easier I will just make our relationship untrue. 

“I’m sorry dear girl that your head feels like it might explode, I’m sorry that teachers cannot see how hard you are working but I’m also sorry that I cannot change these situations for you. 

All i can promise you is that I do have your back.

I will walk along side you with no false hopes or fairytales falsehoods but with truth, love and faith,

faith in you. 

How could I have forgotten? 

Yesterday the world just didn’t make sense. My heart and my head just couldn’t stay on the same page. I screamed, I cried. I was angry, I was sad and for a while I didn’t know why. 

Why was this day so hard? 

Then I caught the date on my phone December 3rd, 

December 3rd 

As I read that number it hid home with a gigantic bang.

How could I have not realised, how could I have not remembered? 

What kind of mother am I ?

Forgetting the day I buried my daughter. 

If I close my eyes I can recall that December day. It was cold but yet the sun lite up the winter sky, warm rays dancing on the icy floor. 

Frost sparkling like a carpet of diamonds fit for a princess, my princess. 

You know It’s not in any parenting books, or  on any websites. There are no handbooks on how to bury your child.

You wander through it all in daze, making decisions you have no desire to make. The colour of the casket, the silk that lines it. What does she wear? Oh the irony of it all, does it actually really matter? 

Yet matter it did, from the brand new cardigan that Nanna travelled to fetch to the choosing of her special toys, it all mattered, it mattered desperately.

I wanted it perfect, I needed it to be perfect.

It was all I could do, all I had left to do. 

I don’t really remember the words that was spoken or even the memories we shared.

All I really remember is the weight, the weight that consumed me, my feet feeling lead lined not wanting to move. To leave, to leave my beautiful girl behind. 

I kept on at myself “she isn’t there” “she has already gone”. Yet in that casket laid my last physical connection with my daughter and everyone is telling me I have to move, I have to leave. 

I held on tight to my youngest hands as I left that chapel, scared to let her or her sisters out of my sight. Wanting to hold on tight to them and never ever let go. 

I was empty, I was lost. 

Walking through the pleasantries, shared moments, warm hugs. 

Yet nothing was ever going to be the same again. 

I would never be whole again. 

I left part of my heart behind in December 3rd 2008 and whilst the brokenness has started to heal I will also have a missing piece. 

A beautiful blond wild haired missing piece. 

My girl, my Livvy,

Forever in my heart, forever my daughter. 

Eight years 

I wasn’t sure I was going to write this year, I was thinking, wondering if I should let the day go past without remembrance. Yet I knew it would be a lie, a falsehood because pretending that this anniversary doesn’t exist doesn’t make it so. In fact the pretence builds its power giving it more control.

Eight years, eight long years of missing my beautiful daughter. 

Eight years since I held her last in my arms.

Eight years since I heard her sweet giggle.


Grief, it’s a horrific road, it often plays unfair. Sometimes it even allows you to feel like you are winning, only to sweep your feet from underneath you, cold and swift. 

Yet the truth is that grief and love, they walk hand in hand. Without one you would not get the other.

So I’ve decided today that I’m not going to hide away.

I’m going to immerse myself in all that was Olivia, 

That is Olivia.


I’m going to give myself permission to walk through the valley of pain in hope to find a place of peace.

I’m going to remember her sweet little ways, her cheeky character, her strength of spirit.

And I’m going to give thanks 

Thanks that even now in the midst of grief, I am so thankful that I got love.

I am one incredibly blessed woman that I was lucky enough to have this child call me mom. 


That I would walk a lifetime in pain for the privilege of being Olivia mom. 

That whilst nine years will never be enough they were such a gift. 

My beautiful girl I wonder if you really knew how you changed my life. How you opened my eyes into a world of innocence and honesty. How living one day with you would often seem like a lifetime. You taught me so much, you challenged me, to embrace each moment, to celebrate each breathe. 

Many can travel this life without really knowing their destination, their purpose. You young lady gave me mine, you made it crystal clear what was expected from me, I’m still hearing your instructions from heaven. 

Be kind for kindness sake
Be thankful for all things 
Stand up for what matters 
Be the voice of the voiceless 
And never ever be afraid to say yes to love. 

We are not all promised forever but knowing you are loved is a lifetime gift. 
Thank you for being one of my greatest gifts.

My beautiful daughter
My inspiring Livvy.

Until I get to hold you again, love you girlie xxx

Inspire or destroy?

Last week I was lucky enough to get to listen to the inspirational Nick Barwick. Nick is a motivational speaker who came to a fostering meeting to share his experiences as a care leaver. His story is incredible, he has faced adversity, pain and suffering throughout his life but still found the strength and courage to achieve his dreams, he defied the odds and he overcame.

Nick is passionate about sharing his story, he wants the success stories of life to be shared. We need our children to have hope, that if they are struggling and finding life a struggle they can remember that where they are right now is not where they need to end. This is doubly important for all children within the looked after system, they especially need the reminder that there is Hope in this world.

I took an awful lot away with me after listening to Nick speak, but what has been twirling around in my head since I left the meeting was the impact of ‘words.’

Let me explain a little, as Nick was sharing his story he spoke about being told by some professional in his life that he would not achieve, academically, financially and emotionally, and how these words for a long time became a self fulfilling prophecy for him.

How the words spoken to him became the words he spoke to himself.

Words have power!

They can inspire but also they can destroy.

words

Hearing Nick’s story just hit home how important our words are,

How as Mother’s, as fathers, as teachers, carers, our words have an impact on hearts.

How as a friend, a wife, a sister I need to use my words wisely.

How often have we let words spoken to us bury deep in our hearts?

How what may have been a passing comment has be able to consume our minds.

Someone else’s opinion become our truth.

I know I can look back in my life and raise my hand numerous times for when words spoken in hate became my reality.

“You won’t pass it.”

“I wouldn’t even bother’

“You are not good enough”

“Who would love you?”

How I let these lines of letters sink deep into my heart like an anchor dropped into the ocean, dropping slowing until they find a place to settle and hold, hold on tight.

How I  have allowed hurtful words to crawl under my skin until I believed them completely, burying under my skin into my blood to pump through my veins, straight to my heart.

Burrowing deep until I owed them as my truth.

Thankfully like Nick I had someone in my life who challenged me to question these words. To remind me that my future was mine to create.

That it was up to me to write my own story. 

story-of-your-life

I’m still a work in progress, my story has many chapters left to write.

I’m still learning to throw away the words that hurt, to erase the words that are wrong and untrue.

To protect myself from words that do not inspire or encourage.

I’m creating my own vocabulary and as I do this I hope to create another for my children.

I want their story to be one of adventure, excitement and hope but what I want most of all is that the biggest chapter that they write will always be one filled with love.

I pray that story is one of knowing, knowing how loved they are. 

Countdown to 40

40

 

I realised last night that in under a month I turn 40. This is a major milestone in my life but one I am so excited for.

Growing up I remember thinking 40 was really old, I mean it seemed that my mom was 32 forever so I was sure I would stay this way. Yet time has moved on and I have been slowly creeping towards this age.

I remember when I turned 30 I was really freaked by it all, I didn’t feel ready to be 30 years old I was uncomfortable and not happy in my own skin. Life wasn’t easy and I had just started to show signs of the illness that changed my life. I look back to those days when I was chasing after 4 children under 10 and teaching dance. I remember just not feeling complete as if I wasn’t living life to the full.

Fast forward the last ten years and my goodness a crazy amount has happened. I have walked through some of the darkest moments of my life. My heart has been broken, tore up into millions of pieces and then trodden on. I never imagined at 30 that I would have to bury a child let alone two. I would have never been able to comprehend surviving the loss of my daughter and my foster son. Never in a million years. Yet somehow I have survived, my heart may never be complete but it is learning to love on, learning to beat strongly again and I am learning to live life to the full again.

I know deep down that 40 isn’t really a special age. I mean I preach often about celebrating every day we have here, but still I am rather excited for the day.

This may sound big headed but I like who I see in the mirror now. I may not be a dance teacher or able to fit my bum into a size 12 but I truly love my body and I’m so grateful to it. It has given me four amazing girls, completely different, independent ,inspirational girls. It allows me to foster two truly awesome boys, each a blessing in their own special way. My body may be a little battle worn but it’s not been beaten and I am so thankful for this.

I look back to the person I was 10 years ago and I know I have been on a journey. I use the term “self discovery” loosely  as is the only way to get close to describing  the transformation I feel I have faced.

I love who I am (yes I may have said that before) but I seriously do. I love my emotional side, no more will I apologise for my random tears or unexpected hugs. I’m empathic and I care and this is something I am proud of now. No more calling myself soppy and pathetic, I actually rock.

I love my courage, I am more willing to put myself out into the danger zone, being vulnerable, feeling scared but still moving forward.

I love my brain, it’s ok that I am a little geeky at times, that sometimes the idea of a good book wins against a movie or a night out. That I appreciate my own company and yes at times I get lost in my own mind.

I love myself and I love my life.

As I head towards this birthday milestone I do so with so much gratitude.

Over the last years I have had people walk into my life that have blessed me in so many ways. Friends that love me for me, deep true friendships that can pick up after a time apart just where we left off. Friends I can laugh with, friends I have cried on. I am so grateful for each and every one of them.

I am so thankful for my family, my daughters and my sons each so unique and so beautiful. Getting to watch them grow and learn and experience life is such a wonder, such a gift. My Dad, my Step Mom, my inlaws, my aunts, uncles, cousins, relantionships that I truly value and people I truly love.

My husband, I am completely in love with this crazy man, after nearly 20 years of marriage I still get that flutter in my heart when he walks into a room. He makes me laugh, he drives me insane, but he truly is my soul mate.

I am so thankful that I miss my Livvy, because missing someone is the recognition of an amazing love, a truly unbroken bond. My girl and I will be together again one day, but until then I am going to try and live as she did, fully and with all my heart.

So the count down to 40 begins and I’m so excited. I’m so ready to celebrate the 40 years I have been here with all my family and friends. An evening full of laughter, music and hopefully a gorgeous outfit.

Yet 40 is only the really the beginning, the start of a new stage in life, one I hope will be full of love and laughter and the people that really make my life truly amazing, my family and friends, because with them and because of them I actually love myself more at 40 then I ever did.

 

40 looking good

A truly wonderful evening, memories, moments and awards.

There are some experiences that will live with you forever and for me Tuesday will be one of those. My beautiful daughter won an award from the Fostering Network for an outstanding contribution by Sons and Daughters. As you can imagine I was one proud mom and was so excited to go to London to watch her receive this award.

Words cannot describe how wonderful the night was, from the moment we reached the BMA House we were so welcomed. In fact many people came up to us and to say hello as they recognised us from the film we had recorded, Brodie’s story.

 

The evening started with a tea party, in a room that was dressed beautifully, we were greeted warmly by one of The Fostering Network trustees Daisy, a truly lovely lady who has such passion for Fostering. We were then seated with another Sons and daughters winner and his family and a lovely gentleman who was there to support the Fostering Network. We were also lucky enough to share a table with the beautiful Holly Willoughby and her equally as stunning mum. We also had the incredible honour to meet HRH The Duchess of Cambridge who sat and chatted to us all.

tea_party_2_web

How do I explain how amazing the evening was, Holly was truly lovely, really friendly and so genuine and HRH The Duchess of Cambridge was so beautiful, she was warm and interested in what we did. Brodie loved it and I was in complete awe. To sit round the table with these wonderful ladies was a real honour. I think I may have burst with maternal pride, my girl rocks.

After the tea party we all moved into the hall for the awards ceremony. The Sons and daughters awards were the first ones to be given. We then got to watch the video that we recorded a few weeks ago, sharing our story and our beautiful daughter. The video was so wonderful and so emotional, I will cherish it forever.

Seeing Brodie up there on the stage receiving her award from the Children’s minister in England Edward Timpson MP, was incredible, to say I am proud of her doesn’t come close. Fostering isn’t easy and you really have to work as a family to make each placement successful. Brodie is an integral part of making us work. She opens her home and her heart to children who need a home, who need a family. Her motto is , “Our home, your home”. You can read the reason she was give this award here.

sons_and_daughters_award

The whole evening was marvellous, the celebration of some amazing people all involved somehow with fostering. From fantastic Foster carers to some amazing fostered children who in spite of their struggles had achieved some incredible things. The atmosphere was inspiring it was a true honour to be there.

Brodie, myself and my husband had a memory making evening, we got to speak to some wonderful people and will hold dear so many moments from the night.

My husband was in awe of Holly, Brodie loved the fact that Holly admired her converse and for me just getting to talk about why I love fostering was wonderful.

So proud of my girl

So proud of my girl

 

I want to say a big thank you to the wonderful team at The Fostering Network, you are an incredible bunch who work so hard to represent fostering and supporting the awesome work of foster carers. Last nights celebration was for you all too as you are all stars.

Thank you for a wonderful evening, thank you Holly for loving my girls shoes and her plaits and thank you HRH The Duchess of Cambridge for giving us a memory to cherish and for wearing the same colour dress as me. ( see I do have some dress sense).

I also want to say thank you to my amazing foster son, you are such a gift to us all and we are so lucky to have you as part of our family, today and always.

Yes, fostering is a job but it so much more, it’s the opportunity to change lives.

I am so grateful that I get to do this everyday. Is not always easy but it is always so worthwhile.

I truly love my job.

Let’s end October with a bang. 

For the last 23 days I have asked you to join with me and support my #nomoreemptyarms campaign. Asked you to upload an image with you and your loved ones with the hashtag #nomoreemptyarms. All this in hope that we could raise a discussion from the hashtag about Rett Syndrome, generating awareness and understanding is what I was hoping and praying for.
  

You all have supported me incredibly, and again I have been shocked at the momentum that the hashtag has created. My heart has been blessed by the comments, by the questions and by people saying “they didn’t know what Rett syndrome was but do now”. It’s been truly awesome. But now as we reach the last 8 days of October and the final days of the Rett Syndrome awareness month I’m going to ask you to do something more for me.

I’m going to ask you to donate £5 to Reverse Rett and do so in honour of my empty arms, my Livvy. 

  
I want you to join me in fighting against Rett Syndrome and shouting out loud #nomoreemptyarms

  

£5 may not seem a lot, a price of a coffee, a magazine but in fighting against Rett syndrome every penny counts. 

So please make a donation now in honour of my Livvy and for all the parents out there whose arms are now empty because of Rett Syndrome. Then tweet me, Facebook me or just let the world know that you have donated and that they can too. Help share the fundraising link far and wide.

I’ve just donated £5 to Reverse Rett because I want to make sure that there are #nomoreemptyarms you can to. https://www.justgiving.com/Nomoreemptyarms

Please do this for me in honour of my Livvy, do this for all the children fighting against Rett Syndrome today and please do this so that we can be fight together so that no other parent has to lose their child to Rett Syndrome. 

The cure is within our reach, make our hopes a reality. 
Please visit my just giving page. 

  
Please donate here today 

Perfect sense

I was restless last night as I sat and tried to catch up with my weekly television programmes. I just couldn’t relax and I didn’t know why. 

I checked the oven, the doors and my diary but I just couldn’t work out what I was missing.

Then it hit me. 

I was listening out for Livvy, somehow I had stepped back in time to seven years ago. The Friday night ritual of Alan going out for the evening and me staying in caring for Livvy.

My mind was listening out for her noises. Her gentle snores or crazy giggles.

I was even waiting to eat with my sister and have one our much missed Friday night chats.

For those few moments I was in my before time. 

Before my heart broke.

Still I wasn’t allowed to stay for long.

Only seconds later the pain overwhelmed me. 

Like shadows slowly consuming the light.

My heart was beating so swiftly, my brain pounding against my skull.

Raw open wounds.

I don’t know why our brains do this to us? 

Flashbacks to moments we cannot hold on to.

Memories so real you can almost touch them.

I cried last night, gut wrenching sobs of missing.

Time really doesn’t ease your pain. 

I was so angry, the frustration of being able to do nothing dominated my mind.

Why,

Why,

Why?

Finally I could cry no more, my soul was empty, my tears exhausted.

I know I cannot go back, 

so many ways and so much time. 

But for that brief moment then I wasn’t broken.

For those few minutes life made sense.

Perfect sense