More than a Mum

More than a mum is the place I save everything that doesn’t fall into the Travel, Food and Lifestyle buckets. It’s all those little things that go into my life and make me the person I am. Expect to find, fashion, beauty, photography, hobbies and anything else that is another part of me that I thought you might be interested in.

My second post of the 30 posts of truth, please find the first here

Crikey, in the wrong hands this could be a totally mad post, couldn’t it? It’s just the kind of question that allows you to go on and on and on about all your qualities :D

I’ll be brief ladies and gentlemen, I promise. I laugh as I write as I’m hardly at the Oscars here! The exercise is to find something you love about yourself and I will admit, I’m quite happy being me, I have multiple bad points, ask my other half – he’ll fill you in, but at the point I am now in my life. I’m ok with me and I think it took a long time to get here and a lot of heartache too.

What do I love most about myself? I think it’s a quality that comes from my dad. As a teenager growing up I would see Dad every other weekend as my parents divorced when I was 10. During our time together I would talk about the things that were worrying me in my life and dad would listen and come back with his advice which was always spot on. One thing he taught me was to break the problem down into smaller, more manageable bits, his favourite phrase being ‘We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.’ I have used this advice over and over throughout my life and if there’s one thing I shall shout out about myself is that I will not be put off by problems, sometimes they are hard and so I break them down just like dad taught me too. It works – you should try it.

There is one other thing I’d like to mention as I think it’s important. I love the way I always look for the positive in someone and I think this is really important in our society today. I know many people who are constantly knocking others, celebrities or not, finding something nasty or harmful to say about this person and sometimes when I’m listening I feel as if I’ve been stabbed myself in the gut.

Is it necessary to be so constantly spiteful? Why are these people being so spiteful? Is it to make themselves feel better than that person?

I don’t know but I feel if we’re constantly picking up on the bad in people we can’t evolve and get better as a society as a whole. It’s time we started looking for the good, focusing on it and bringing it out in to the open by praising it, that way people will get better, nicer, happier and we’ll all live happily ever after…or something like that

Oh, and before you disappear, there’s just one more thing that I love about myself and that is I don’t take myself seriously. I’m happy to send myself up in favour of a laugh and I am an easygoing, easy to talk to person who is approachable and nice – well I think so :)

What do you love about yourself?

How do I blog? – Good question. How do I do it and do I really want to stop and ask myself?

Well actually, yes I do as blogging has become a very important part of my life. It has become a valid outlet for me to connect with the outside world, to write more and better (hopefully), to meet people and connect.

I have to squeeze my blogging time into various moments throughout the day, usually when the girls are having a quiet moment which annoyingly for me is less and less, afternoons seem to be good writing times, they’re on the sofa watching CBeeBies and I can tap away for a while with no  relatively little distraction, if they happen to nap I’m on a roll!

Here is what I struggle with regards to blogging:-

  1. I’m not as good as I’d like to be in getting back to comments left on my blog, although I appreciate every single one  as they give excellent direction. My problem is time, I just need more of it. Please, please don’t be offended if I don’t get back to you, I’ve just caught up in real life!
  2. Again time is needed to visit all the lovely bloggers who do take the time to comment and some weeks I just run out of time and therefore don’t get back to everyone. I would like to change this, maybe when the girls start pre-school I’ll be more organised…
  3. I hardly ever go back and edit posts and again this is because of lack of time. There are loads of mistakes, including my 1st Jan post where I actually got the year wrong! I was suffering a major hangover if that’s any excuse? That is still on my To Do list :D
  4. I hardly ever make it on to Twitter which is a brilliant place to promote your blog and get ‘seen’ raising the number of readers, interacting with the other bloggers (I’d love to have more time to do this!) Again hopefully when the girls start pre-school I’ll be miraculously freed and can devote more time *sigh*

Here’s some tips on how I keep the posts coming.

  1. When I get ideas and they can be none for days and then a major brainstorming session, I write them down in a notebook and come back to them. Sometimes I may leave them – maybe they don’t feel right on revisiting, sometimes I may elaborate on them and detour from the initial idea but on the whole it works for me.
  2. A more detailed post, I start as a draft and keep going back to it until I feel it’s right. A perfect example of this is the My Italy posts. I start with initial ideas and then add to it through the week and hopefully don’t forget anything majorly important!

If you are interested in blogging I would advise this  E-course written by Erica, a mummy blogger herself. She has gone through all aspects from start-up right through to gaining more readers and moving on to higher levels. It’s written in an easy to grab manner and is full of fantastic advice another important mention  – it’s Free and arrives weekly in your inbox. What are you waiting for? Go and subscribe and get yourself started up now. I keep going back to mine frequently as it’s a hive of information.

So there you go, that is How I blog, I’m linking up with Notes to Self Plus Two, a brilliant mummy blogger, check her out and see what other tips have been put forward, maybe they’ll convince you to join in too. Please make sure you let me know if you do start-up as I’d love to see what you’re up to.

Technorati claim – RPGFCABEXP7V

Apparently thanks to this formula of dubious origins, today in 2011 is the most depressing day of the year and we are not going to succumb to it -NO!!!! We are much better than that.

Just in case you were wondering what the various letters stand for here they are – weather=W, debt=d, time since Christmas=T, time since failing our new year’s resolutions=Q, low motivational levels=M and the feeling of a need to take action=Na. ‘D’ is not defined in the release, nor are units.

Well yes,

  1. W = weather here in the south the weather is revolting this morning, grey sky and heavy rain but that’s ok, I’ll just stay indoors and get on with the ironing, the cleaning so as to free myself up should it be nice tomorrow, right?
  2. Debt? Now we are Larry Flint (skint – penniless) but thankfully we don’t have debts apart from the mortgage but loads of people have those.
  3. Christmas is over, and thank goodness for that! I need to diet and I couldn’t afford another anyway.
  4. Q, we’re starting to fail our New Year’s Resolutions already, ah, but I don’t set myself time frames and therefore I allow myself more time to accomplish the challenges I set myself. I realise I am not super human and make allowances for it and I’m easy on myself in moments of crisis.
  5. M + N, low motivation levels and the feeling and need to take action = ok, let’s wait and see what tomorrow brings. I can’t be 100% every single day, I have my off days too.

You see a certain ‘Cliff Arnell’ dreamed this up, Wikipedia thinks he was paid to do it by Public Relations agency Porter Novelli and although it may have been a bit of fun and served it’s purpose in the PR world surely we can’t all fall under that umbrella?

I think we all have our blue  moments throughout the year and we all have our tried and tested ways of dealing with those emotions, here are some of the things that I feel helpful to get me through tough times

1. Get a date in the diary to look forward to, night out with the girls, family reunion, an unheard of date night with my OH

2. Go for a long walk in a country park, wrap up warm if it’s winter and if it’s summer take food to prolong the joyful moment.

3. Contact a friend or family member you haven’t spoken to for a while, by email, phone or text.

4. Set yourself a reasonable challenge which is do-able, the feeling of having accomplished lasts for a long time after and is well worth the hard work.

5. Listen to some music you haven’t for a long time.

Oh and Mr Arnell has been commissioned by Wall’s Ice Cream to discover the happiest day of the year, in 2010 it was 18th June so any time close to Midsummer and we should be rocking and a rolling all day long, there something to look forward to!

What tactics do you use with yourself to nudge yourself out of a gloomy state? Please share them

Hand photo credit            Blue photo credit

This is an honest account of a miscarriage I suffered at 21 weeks and 5 days. I’m speaking from my heart and I would prefer you not to read it if you think it may upset you or affect you in any way. Tomorrow normal posts will be resumed, today I have to get this out of my system. Thank you for understanding.

2006. Paul and I had been trying for a few months to get pregnant, I was due to be 40 at the end of April and aware that time was on a countdown. I had been off the pill for six months and luckily for us around the 6 month mark it happened. We were on holiday in Italy for my son’s 18th birthday at the time.

We came home with this massive secret so excited but decided to wait a while before telling anyone. The norm for spilling the beans is the three month mark but we were bursting with excitement and on a family break to Ilfracombe, Devon we decided to let the family know. We were having meals together as we were all in the same house and I was avoiding alcohol, surely they would twig?

They were all very pleased for us but I couldn’t help but feel for one sister in law plagued with polycystic ovaries and trying for years. I know our news upset her as she discovered another person was pregnant and she still wasn’t, but time was running out for me and I had to grab my last chance. Inside my soul I prayed deeply that she too would have her baby soon as I felt a thief getting what she wanted so desperately.

The pregnancy was going very well, I was commuting to London daily to work at the Italian Tourist Board and evenings and weekends were spent relaxing and enjoying the feel of my swelling belly. It was probably around the 13 week mark that I started to bleed slightly which freaked me out no end. I had had no problems with my two older children’s pregnancies and couldn’t understand why? It seemed like a terrible omen but after visits to both my midwife and my GP I was told it was nothing to worry about and quite common. I could only sit and wait and pray.

I noticed the more active I was the faster the bleed so I slowed right down. I stopped lifting things and Paul took over all the housework while I lazed on the sofa.

At 15 weeks or 16, I’m sorry my memory fails the exact timings, I was upstairs in bed watching Friends. It was the final episode, do you remember the one where there is a bomb or a huge commotion in the A&E? Bodies everywhere, well my memory is sketchy here too as I missed it. Just as we were getting to the end, I felt something down below and ran to the loo. Something was coming out and I was afraid it was the baby. A blood clot the size of my hand slipped into the toilet and I was frightened like I’d never been before. I called Paul and I collected the blood clot in a Tupperware box – just in case it could help the doctors know what was happening to me and together we made our way to A&E both of us tense and worried and me ,strangely enough, a bit annoyed that I’d missed the ending of Friends(?) The weirdest thought to have at such a personal dramatic moment.

I was given a thorough check, they laid me on a bed in a quiet room away from the main ward. More blood, more clots and I cried, clutching my tummy, looking at Paul and pleading to him, ‘I don’t want to lose our baby.’ ‘Stop it.’ as if he could magically take control of destiny. They bought a doppler in and listened to my tummy, I was warned by the lady using the device that she was not trained and the baby was still small she may not hear anything. I suppose they have to cover themselves these days but I nodded eager to hear a heartbeat….and there it was. I can’t tell you my relief. I wept once again this time the tears releasing me from the tension that had steadily been building up over the past couple of weeks. I was taken to a ward and once settled Paul went home.

I stayed in hospital a couple of days, I was scanned and I discovered I was expecting a healthy little girl, the problem seemed to be coming from the placenta, there was an area that was detached and that was causing the bleeding and clots as it tried to heal itself constantly. I got a medical certificate and stayed home from work, on the one hand happy to be able to focus on my child and on the other guilty at leaving my colleague in the lurch with our shared job.

The pregnancy continued and I got bigger and bigger and with each day that passed I got more and more confident that maybe we had just had a glitch that was now over but the bleeding never stopped. I had turned 40 without alcohol and many friends had travelled from Italy to celebrate me which I was enormously grateful for.

It was at 21 weeks and 3 days at dinner with friends in a gorgeous country pub with a mad hatter owner that I realised I quite fancied a glass of wine – unheard of for me in pregnancy where my favourite liquid becomes as appealing as drinking petrol. We stayed the night there and I could feel a few tugs and pulls at my tummy, but nothing too drastic. I slept and in the morning whilst bathing I could ‘feel’ something at the top of my cervix. I tried to feel more and tug at the ‘clot’ but it wasn’t coming away.

‘Oh well, it’ll come away in time.’ and off we went to spend the day at the beach.

I felt dreadful and family have since told me I looked terrible so we left earlier than planned, tucking me up in bed for a good night’s sleep in the hope it would all settle. More tummy pains but my exhaustion sent me into a deep sleep. I was aware of Paul getting ready for work and after he had left the house I got up to use the bathroom, on wiping I couldn’t fail to see a tiny foot hanging out of me. In a mad rush, I called Paul from my mobile phone who thankfully hadn’t caught the coach yet. I urged him to come home immediately and as I struggled from the bedroom to the bathroom I felt my baby slip further out. I stood in the bath and caught her in my hands shaking and in shock.

My practical side took over. Tupperware box – I knew she was no longer with us and unsaveable at 21 weeks and 5 days. I asked Paul to cut the long placenta with scissors and tidied myself up as I knew I had yet to pass the placenta. Paul called the hospital and they told us to come straight in. It was the quietest, eeriest journey we have ever made and the outcome, well we were no longer expecting and our lives and dreams had been dashed in one foul swoop.

Because she was so close to the 24 weeks mark we had to arrange for her funeral, we were given the option of naming her, I didn’t then and shortly after I regretted that decision taken in haste, still in shock and trying to be practical. Elise is her name in my heart and she still lives there and the strangest coincidence I want to share with you is she was born on the 17th July 2006 – two years later on exactly the same day and more or less the same time our twin girls came into the world and that ladies and gentlemen is sooo right it makes me smile and shed a tear at the same time.

I found enormous help and support in the time following my loss at Baby Centre and Baby World where there are forums with wonderful ladies who have all suffered the same loss and help each other to come out of the misery. I made a lot of friends who are still on my Facebook account and I ‘see’ enjoying happier times. I also found many answers on the Miscarriage Association

I apologise if I made you sad. I am wracked with guilt for putting her in a Tupperware box, but I wasn’t thinking straight, for not naming her that day and for not carrying the pregnancy full term. Shortly after my loss a story hit the media of a lady who gave birth at 22 weeks – two days more and the baby survived.

Not everyone will be having a great time this Christmas and I’d like to dedicate today’s post to all of those who will be ‘single’ again this Christmas against their wishes.

While the majority of us are crossing off  ‘To Do’s’ on our list, busy cleaning the house to perfection and shopping on an Apocalypse scale. Some of our friends will be facing their first Christmas alone, I can think of a few off the top of my head and my heart goes out to them. Having been in that sorrowful situation I can tell you hand on heart It’s not nice, in fact it stinks. You couldn’t care less for the turkey, the presents, the Christmas Crackers, the alcohol can work to take the edge off your unhappiness but you’d rather just go back to bed and have done with it to be honest.

I’ve had a few unhappy Christmases, one of which I would like to share as a reminder to keep an eye out for others this festive season who may not be as happy as we are.

I can’t remember which year it was exactly but Tommy and Megan were quite young, maybe 5 and 3 making it around 1993. My relationship with my ex was its usual rocky, unstable self and after years of experience I had decided to just get on with Christmas for me and the children. Even if he didn’t want to participate in the present giving and being together I couldn’t see why we should forego that pleasure too.

The children were understandably excited, we had put our real fir tree up and decorated it with ornaments and chocolates like every other tree in the village. We had made our own cards which they had coloured in and sent them off to be with our family in Britain and I had some presents upstairs hidden at the back of the wardrobe that would only make an appearance after the children had gone to sleep on Christmas Eve. I’d got Him a present, a beautiful jumper from his favourite shop knowing full well I wouldn’t be receiving anything again this year. I was used to it.

‘I Don’t Do Presents Just Because It’s Christmas! I hate it, it’s all so bloody commercial.’ I’ll buy you a present when I WANT to not because you expect one.’

I never did get the presents promised, so I just went on with My festive preparations regardless of Him. I was going to give our kids an idea of what a real family could be like and should be like.

We baked cakes, a chocolate log where I let the children clean the mixing bowl with their fingers and we put a CD on of Santa songs so I could teach them some English and they could learn to fill their little hearts with joy. We joined in the church run up to Christmas, the nativity play at the Scuola Materna, where my Tommy played the vital role of a leaf as he would never sit still and we had a generally happy run up to the Biggest day of the year, without Him.

He worked in the wine bar of the family hotel every night. He stayed there till the early hours of the morning, drinking far too much every single night. So it was better staying away from him. He was moody and could snap at the slightest thing.

 Like I said, we stayed away and I secretly prayed that he would wake up and see the light. I prayed he would understand that his family was more important to him than his wine bar. I prayed that he would shut the wine bar at a recognised time of 2am rather than stay until the sun rose. I prayed that my husband would try to recognise that I loved him that I was worried for his health, for our future. I wanted him back in my life as a husband not this frightening dictator who had taken over all of our lives.

On Christmas Eve I told the children the nativity story for the umpteenth time. We went over Father Christmas again, his sleigh, his reindeers and at last I could see they were done for today and anxious to sleep. I kissed them, tucked them in and went downstairs excited to get on with my preparations. I worked diligently, wrapping, and sticking labels to each package. I filled their stockings with toys and knick knacks even if they weren’t custom in Italy until the Befana, I was determined to keep some of my British traditions alive. I listened to my Santa songs and sipped an Irish Whiskey brought back from a recent trip to the UK. It was delicious and tasted of chocolate so I had some more. By the time 10pm came around I was quite tipsy, happy and ready for Christmas.

He came up to the house. He needed a quick change before going back down to the hotel to work in the bar. He went upstairs and I could hear him rumbling around. I poured another whiskey, after all it was Christmas. He came down stairs quickly and had a strange look in his eyes.

‘You’re drinking.’

‘Yeah, it’s the whisky I bought back from the UK, it’s delicious. Want to try some.’ I said with a smile on my face, trying my best to make him happy.

‘You’re slurring, you’re drunk.’

‘Nooo. I’ve only had a couple, it’s Christmas Eve. I’m just enjoying myself.’

‘You’re having an affair! I know as somebody told me.’

‘What?’ (I wasn’t having an affair but in the very long absences of my husband I had grown friendly with the chef of the hotel, but nobody knew about it…I was sure. In my dreams I hoped it would become something more significant. That I could too be finally loved as I loved in return. That I could live a normal life with my children and not have to run around Him pleasing his every notion in order to keep a quiet life. I wanted a man by my side who would like to spend time with me not fill his every waking hour with work, paragliding, skiing, hangliding, swimming, tennis, rollerblading, cycling…you name it, he did it leaving no time at all for us. I’d only ‘seen’ the chef a couple of times, was that an affair?)

I watched him as the anger exploded in his face turning him into an ugly demon. I argued with him, I tried to reason with him. I confessed I was unhappy, that he didn’t care for his family and I was lonely – vino veritas, they call it – wine tells the truth.

I watched unable to stop him as he lifted the Christmas Tree from its place and threw it across the lounge knocking over whatever was in its path. I watched as he pushed the fridge over in the kitchen and cleared the surface of a few mugs and plates with his arm until it all came crashing to the floor. I watched in horror as he made his way over to the television in the corner. He picked it up, holding it in one arm and opened the door onto the balcony with the other. I heard the TV crash down three floors to the terrace below.

He returned to the room, his breathing was fast and his face was red, he was yelling at me, the children were at the top of the stairs screaming, confused. I made my way up to them and he left the house, thankfully.

I soothed my children and put them to bed again, I cleared up the wrecked house he’d left in the wake of his anger and I poured myself another whiskey as the tears fell down my cheeks.

The next time the chef asked me to meet him, I didn’t think twice.

If YOU are having an unhappy Christmas for whatever reason, be sure I am with you. I have everything crossed for you that 2011 will bring much happiness and fill your heart with joy. It DOES get better, I promise and one day happiness will return,

Happy Christmas everyone

Love Mari xxx