Tag Archives: laughter

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.

Freedom at forty 

Wow it’s official today I am forty years old. I know I should be freaking out moaning about the wrinkles but to be perfectly honest I love it. I am celebrating not just the coming of a milestone age but also the freedom in who I am.

  

Finally at forty I am comfortable in my own skin. I know the direction of my life and I’m content and fulfilled. 

I am celebrating more than 40 years on this earth. I am recognising my struggles, my heartbreaks, my relationships and the way they have all shaped me into the person I am today. 

  

I am looking back and seeing the many blessings I have had in my life. Celebrating my beautiful girls, my handsome boys, my wonderful husband.

I am grateful for the friendships that I’ve had, those that have stood the test of time and those that were brief but valuable. 

I can look back and see the life’s lessons I have had to learn. Some I got quickly some which took a little longer, all had value, all had purpose. 

I’m excited about the coming years, excited to embrace all the future has for me. 

I’m moving into my 40’s determined and head first. 

I’ve learned a lot over the last 4 decades and I’m hoping I will take this knowledge forward into new experiences and new memory making moments. I’m hoping that older may mean wiser but hey you know me. Heart first and the head a little later. 

So today Happy birthday to me, thank you to all the family and friends who have walked alongside me. Thank you for the memories and the moments and here’s to many many more. Bring on the next 40. 
  

A beautiful place 

This week I’ve spent my first night in our local Acorn’s children’s hospice, giving the staff chance to get to know my little one whilst I’m on hand and I cannot believe how amazing this place is. 

When Livvy was still with us the word hospice filled me with fear. As far as I was concerned a hospice was where children went to die. 

I was so wrong it’s a place where children live.

In the last 24 hours I have seen so much laughter, 

so much love 

so much life. 

Children with smiles that light up a room, laughter than echoes through the corridors.

It’s a truly wonderful place , full of staff that really care for the children and for who nothing is too much trouble. 

I cannot believe how wrong I was. 

Yes it’s a place that cares for severely disabled children but it’s not the disabilities that are seen here it’s the characters, the spirits. Here in this special place children are simply that children.

It’s a welcome relief for parents knowing they have a place that their children can go and be cared for whilst they get their much needed respite. 

It’s a magical place where children can escape the boring parents have fun and laughter with friends.

Honestly it’s beautiful.

The support that families receive is second to none. I personally know of two families who walked the painful journey of losing their child with Acorns by their side. Of course it doesn’t stop the pain but having someone who understands is priceless. 

I have really enjoyed my stay here and I know little one has too. We are looking forward to more visits and the making of more memories. 

Please take a look at what amazing things Acorns achieve. 
  
The children and families they support

Acorns has helped over 2,470 children and their families since it was established in 1988

Last year2, Acorns supported over 760 children and more than 980 families, including those who are bereaved:

Acorns is currently supporting:

Over 250 children and around 340 families at Acorns in Birmingham3

Over 200 children and over 280 families at Acorns in the Black Country3

Over 190 children and more 250 families at Acorns for the Three Counties3

Read more about how amazing they are here

Please take time today to check out your local children’s hospice and maybe even consider making 2016 the year you decide to fundraise for them. Every penny raised in a penny towards keeping families together and children happy. The services and support is so needed.

For more information on Acorns and how you could support them visit here…

Magic in the moments 

Wow I cannot believe it’s Christmas Eve already. I’m quite sure someone came to me in my sleep and stole away the last few months. It truly only feels like it’s September and that the kids have just gone back to school. 

It’s a stark reminder how quick life can pass you by. How easy it is to get caught up in the stresses and chaos of life that you actually forget to live.

Over the last few weeks a couple of my friends have faced the ultimate pain of losing those they love. Watching them walk this painful pathway has made me think a lot about the way I’m allowing life stress me out. How I’m forgetting that each day is a gift that needs to be lived.

Livvy taught me about the “magic of the moment” but I think that somehow without her to remind me I’ve lost this a little. 

My life is going to be busy in 2016, along with my family, my Universty course I have also become active in my local Labour branch. All these things are important to me and will require my time and energy. Yet I also have to remind myself to focus on the magic of the moment. 

So as I wish you all a Merry Christmas I also ask you to join with me and as we head towards the new year looking forward with a sense of anticipation. 

Be excited for all that’s to come but also remember to carefully find your magic in the moments. 

Laugh until your sides ache.

Cry until you hiccup

And love with all your heart.

Find the magic in the moments, create those memories and make each day count.

Merry Christmas to you all xxxx
  

My Special week

So I’ve just returned from what I often describe as the best week of the year Special kids in the UK camp. The week where one field becomes full with family.

I believe this year for me personally has been the best year ever. 

I pushed my own personal boundaries and chatted to more people than ever and have made some amazing new friends thanks to this.

The camp site we stay on is called Lower Lacon and I can say beyond any doubt that it’s one of the best sites anywhere. They go beyond anything for us all and really make the whole group feel welcome. The facilities are fantastic and always spotlessly clean. 

It was certainly a busy camp with everything from adult colouring sessions to a kids magician.

My personal favourite time is always the Special Kids in the UK Olympics. There is nothing better than seeing the determination on the faces of the children as they line up to race. The wobbly walkers, manual wheelchairs and so many more. You can only imagine the intensity of the men’s race, I’m sure there is year round training for this one. 

Seriously I love this afternoon it just sums up Special kids in the UK for me. Its not about being inclusive, it’s that for one week of a year there are no differences, there are no boundaries. No one looks at what our children can’t do it’s always about what they can.  

Alan getting broody over the youngest member of our special kids family.

This year I finally managed to watch the Ugly bug ball, The annual fancy dress competition. Again I think this year topped all previous ones. With the special guest appearance from the Spice girls, though to be honest I think Old Spices would be a better description.

Truly how amazing are they!
  

  

Add to these Miley Cyrus, a ninja and the cast of Narnia it was an awesome night.

One of the most poignant times of each camp is the balloon release. Seeing the sky filled with colour in honour of those who have gone too soon both breaks and blesses my heart. I was invited to speak before the release but emotion got the better of me. I wanted to honour all those missing but my heart was just broken. One family from our special kids family had laid their beautiful girl to rest last week. My heart just ached for the pain i know they are facing. My words just spilled into tears. Grief holds a rawness like no other. 

I love this camp, it’s a week where memories are created that will last a lifetime. I love that I get to share stories of Livvy with people who remember with me. At this camp I am always a mom to four girls and I am so incredibly grateful for this. 

Livvy is remembered so much on this camp and not just because her name hangs on the tea tent that we sponsor each year but also because we hold our annual Livvy’s Smile tea party. So many cakes, so many smiles no better way to remember my beautiful girl. Check out the hashtag #makingmemorieswithLivvyssmile on social media sites to see the memories we have created, Facebook especially.
  

All in all it was an amazing week, yes I was glad to return home to my bed but I was sad to leave this field. 
I want to say a big thank you to Lower Lacon for their wonderful welcome. It seriously is a fantastic camp site and I highly recommend it.

  

I have especially loved watching my youngest daughter flourish. She became a little like the Pied piper this week always surrounded by children. It certainly makes sense that she wants to work with children with special needs later on in life. I’ve pinched this photo from her Facebook cover. How special is this?

 

 

I want to say thank you to the trustees for arranging an awesome week.

A massive thank you to the BBQ team for their constant effort at keeping us all fed. I didn’t realise how much you actually do each week until I camped behind you. Twice a day, every day you were there working hard and for that and the yummy curry I am truly grateful. You guys rock. 

Special kids in the UK is an amazing charity from the forum to the meet ups it’s a wonderful place for parents and carers of children with disabilities to get support. 

This camping week whilst a highlight of the charity is only a part of what it offers. I cant actually remember how long I have been part of this charity but I’m sure it’s been over 10 years. 

If you are a parent or a carer of a child with special needs check out the website and the forum. Honestly you won’t find a bigger welcome anywhere. 

It’s more than a charity it’s a family.


My Special kids in the UK family.

It’s nearly August (squeak)

I cannot believe we are so close to August. 

This summer month means so much to me. 

This month is filled with the friends I get to call my family. 

My Special Kids in the Uk family.

  

I am so excited to turn my virtual hugs into real ones.

To wrap my arms around those I haven’t seen since this time last year.

To see how people have changed, how the children have grown.

I’m so excited to meet our new families, to get to know how special and amazing each one are.

I am bubbling with joy to be hugging on the new additions, babies not even conceived this time last year but now very welcome members of our crazy tribe.

I cannot wait to congratulate those who have major achievements since we last met. New doctors, new nurses, new drivers , new walkers and new talkers and so many more. 

Each one so inspirational in their own way.

I could cry with the excitement I feel, these people are friends who walk alongside me in the world of disability. 

Those who battle each day, challenging decisions, fighting for support and so much more.

This camp makes my summer.

This field is our island for a week or so.

A place where no one looks at our children differently.

Where no one questions our parenting or blinks an eye at tantrums or melt downs.

Where laughter is the daily medicine that heals our hearts.

I want to laugh with men in dresses, give thanks for women with socket sets.

  
Where,we challenge the term normal in so many ways.

This year is a special camp, well even more special than usual. 

It’s the 10th Anniversary.

  
How incredible is that!

10 amazing friendship making camps.

Camps full of memories that are lasting lifetimes. 

Ugly bug balls, balloon releases and the best last night chats you will find anywhere.

I love this camp.

I have the fire pit ready just have to get the marshmallows.

See you in a few weeks xxx

The crazy bunch of people I get to call my friends.

“I’m tired of friendships mom” words I wasn’t expecting to hear from my 14 year old daughter. I mean giving up on friendship at 14 seriously I think I was at least in my twenties before I felt this way.

My daughter and I are similar we tend to lay our hearts on the line a lot quicker than most. We have so much hope and often find ourselves a little shell shocked from life, from people.

Our hearts can be a little battered.

Friendship is a seriously strange thing, it can bring so much joy but can also turn you upside down and inside out.

My life has been blessed by friendship but also my heart has been broken by it too.

I hate watching my daughter walk this pathway, watching her turn herself in circles.  I am shocked at how cruel we can be to each other. How words can be flung about without any reproach.

I hope that one day my daughter finds the friends she deserves, those that will cherish her tender heart.

I know I am so grateful for my friends, the people that surround me in my life today. My friends keep me sane, they drag me out of my moments of darkness, they challenge me to be the best that I can be.

I love that I get to surround myself with friends who share my passions, ones that are willing to stand up for others. Fight for disability rights, free speech, equality and to challenge and change political policies.

I am honoured that I share my life with mothers and fathers of children with special needs, parents caring for their children with compassion, empathy and kindness.

With foster parents, adoptive parents who open their homes and hearts to children in need.

Recently I have found myself building friendships with amazing women who are pro active in the body positive movement, woman who are encouraging  other woman to love their bodies and celebrate who they are.

Friendships are ever evolving, some friends are there for a lifetime some for just a moment.

Yet for however long your friendship lasts its special, it changes you, makes a mark on your life,

So today I’m taking time to celebrate my friendships and to say thank you to the crazy bunch of people I get to call my friends.

I truly love you all.  xxx

 

Friends

Feeling reflective

Sometimes we have to accept that life isn’t going to go according to plan.

That people aren’t going to stay in your life even if you want them to.

Life moves on, circumstances change and people grow apart.

This doesn’t mean you feel any ill will or wish any harm.

It’s just the acceptance of the ever evolving crazy thing we call life.

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about my future and what I want for it.

Devising my plans, aims and goals.

Yet as always as I look forward I to find myself looking back.

Being reflective isn’t a bad thing it helps you understand your journey and how you got to where you are now.

But allowing the past to hold your future to ransom is never a good thing.

 

So today I am being reflective.

I am sending out love and thanks to those I have met along the way.

I am also aching a little (a lot) for those that are missing.

But I am stepping forward.

Stepping into the great exciting place we call the future.

Excited for the journeys I have yet to take

For the people I have yet to meet

and of course for the memories I have yet to make.

As the year comes to an end…..

So its the end of another year.

A lot has happened in the last 365 days.

I became the parent to all teenagers

Then a few months later I became the parent of an adult. (crazy)

I also then had to wave the said adult off as she left for university

It has truly been a crazy year, at times it has felt my feet have barely touched the ground.

We are still fostering a handsome young man with special needs and he is certainly keeping us on our toes.

Livvy’s Smile is doing well, we have held some fantastic memory making days and been busy fundraising. We have also had our story featured in a weekly woman’s magazine.

Personally I have had my writing published in a book and also walked the catwalk as a plus size model.

It’s honestly been a go go year.

As I wave 2014 goodbye I do so with two emotions.

Pride and exhaustion.

Proud of all we have achieved.

Exhausted, well simply by achieving all we have achieved.

I am super excited for 2015 though.

I have so many hopes for this forthcoming year.

In September I start at university, this is something I have dreamed of for such a long time and I cannot tell you how excited I am.

I’m also modelling again at Style XL and have a couple of photo shoots already lined up.

We may be adding another foster child to our family, and the girls are still trying hard to drive me completely insane.

So yes 2015 I am looking forward to you.

But while I am not making any new year resolutions I am making myself some promises.

Firstly I’m going to learn how to take time for myself.

Allowing myself space to breath, stop feeling guilty about wanting time out.

Also working on my health and fitness, continue with my swimming and working on my diet, as in healthy food not weight loss (not that I wouldn’t mind shifting a pound or twenty). I’m also going to try and stop stressing about things i cannot change and stop letting others have power over me. Anxiety has had me for the last 38 years, no more.

Secondly I’m going to work harder on my marriage.

It’s so easy after 19 years of being with the same man to take him for granted. To take each other for granted. I want to work on cherishing each other, spending quality time together and having fun. Reminding my husband that I still love every inch of him and that i find him sexier now than ever.

Thirdly Im going to work on believing in myself more.

For too long I have let myself down, rejected compliments or turned away opportunities because I didn’t believe I could do them.

This next year is going to be different.

I am a bright, intelligent woman and I am going to embrace all that I am. Negativity and self disbelief can stay in 2014 where it belongs.

This woman is going places.

Fourthly I’m going to have fun and make more memories.

This year I want to be more spontaneous and just enjoy the moment.

Let go and just take each day as it comes.

Play more with the kids and generally try not to stress as much as I do.

 

So there you go, my 2015 promises to myself.

Still before this year comes to an end i want to thank all my readers for the support that they have given me.

Blogging has afforded me many opportunities but the greatest of all these has been the people I have connected with in real life and here in the virtual world.

Your comments, emails, tweets have all lifted me when I was low.

Inspired me when I was lost and loved me when I was lonely.

I started blogging in 2008 for different reasons than I write now, but as always in 2015 this blog will be my heart.

What you read is simply who I am.

Heart on my sleeve

Words on the page.

So with that I would like to say…….

BLOG NEW YEAR

Painting with brighter colours.

I have been avoiding the news for the last few days.

I just cannot take the horror anymore.

Terrorism, diseases, murder, and so much more.

It’s not as if i don’t know its happening of course I do.

I guess i just want to hide away a little.

I watched an episode of Criminal minds the other evening and the investigators were talking about their desire to watch cute videos of little kittens, cute puppies and baby hippos.

Their need to switch the horrific images their jobs brings with cute innocent ones.

I get that.

Not that my job is anything as graphic.

I just understand the need to believe in cute fluffy unicorns for a while.

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I personally don’t subscribe to the sweet animal images.

I prefer messages and videos of hope.

Thats why this week I have been watching videos like this…

 

 

 

Viewing images like these…

 

And

Reading about amazing teenagers like this.

And wrapping myself up in the good in the world.

 

Your attitude is like a box of crayons that colour your world. Constantly colour your picture grey, and your picture will always be bleak. Try adding some bright colours to the picture by including humour, and your picture begins to lighten up.

Allen Klein.

 

 

So this week I am not actually taking time from the world.

I’m just choosing to paint my life with bright beautiful colours.

 

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Abstract Watercolor Hand Painted Background” by bearvader