Monday, 9 December 2013

Overwhelmed... but on my way up

"I have chosen to be happy" ~ Voltaire
 

As life would have it, further to Friday's post, my grand-dad passed away Saturday morning. It's funny. Despite wishing that his time would come sooner rather than later in order for his pain to come an end, it still takes you by surprise when it happens. I had just finished my Parkrun 5k when mum called me. Then I had such a busy weekend from then on that I didn't have time to reflect on it until last night, where it all got a bit much. Luckily Barry was there to give me a big hug when I became overwhelmed.
 
The last few months have been really hard. There's no denying it. I keep trying to stay afloat and push on but the last few weeks I have really struggled. This has affected my mood and my motivation, as well as my confidence in believing I can get things done. The house is a mess. My to-do lists are ridiculously long. I'm snappy with the kids. Overall, not a nice version of me. Which just makes me feel worse.
 
But in a way, I know my grand dad is at peace now, and reunited with his daughter. His wife (my grandmother) and his eldest daughter (my mum) remain, and hopefully we can be there for them and help them ease their pain and ours. There is some comfort in knowing he's no longer suffering. And it almost feels like I had a big weight on my chest which has been lifted, as though I had been waiting for this release for a long time. Over a year in fact. And I now feel as though I'm slowly starting to climb up the mountain again, slowly but surely.
 
I therefore thought I would turn this post into a positive one and share with you what cheers me up:
 
Pharell's new song...
 
Is there anything the man can't sing? Not only does he still look amazing, but this song just makes me want to stand up, click my fingers and sing and dance like a lunatic... my favourite kind of music! Have you seen the video? That's pretty much what they do... love, love, love it! This is my main cheer-up song at the moment.
 


Lady Gaga...

Barry and I have a talent at changing words to songs, and at the moment I like to sing along to him to this song as follows "do what you want with my Baaaaaaarry!"... Makes me so happy!


 
 Little Mix...


 
I love dancing, adore it! So when I hear a good tune and there's a good dance video to go with it, in my head I become one of the dancers!
 
Zumba..
 
on that same note, I am sooo excited that I've started zumba again! My teacher is amazing, and picks out amazing songs and choreographies. Even if you are having a bad night, her enthusiasm and the music never fail to cheer you up and I can hardly walk the next day. Love it, love it, love it!
 
Running...
 
Dare I say it? Although I have only just started again, I am really enjoying running. Never thought I'd see myself write that. I have done two parkruns, including one where I drove myself there, all by myself, ran and completed a personal best, all by myself, just like that, and I was so happy! I have also found a new running partner who is great, and I am going to join a running club tomorrow night... and looking forward to it... I still need to dramatically increase my training, but so far, so good. Could I have caught the running bug?... 
 
Close relationships...
 
With everything going on lately, I have come to realise how many great friends I have. Over the years I have met some truly amazing people, and I am now blessed to have a really strong support network of people including amazing siblings, great friends and of course Barry. My main downfall is that I am rubbish at asking for help, despite their constant reminding for me to do so. But just knowing they're there, and each having their own special power, from knowing exactly how I feel to just picking up the phone to see how I am, really helps. Barry and I make sure we meet up with our various groups of friends on a regular basis and it always helps.
 
And to finish... (anyone else cried their heart out at the beginning of UP! ?)
 
 
 What cheers you up the most at the moment?
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*All images unless otherwise noted are my own, so please do not use them without my permission.*

Friday, 6 December 2013

Reminding myself why I run... because I can!

I know what I'm like. If I decide to do something, but don't tell anyone about it, it is easier to not feel guilty about not following it through. But I no longer want this. My mind and body want more. And although I have started training, I seriously need to pick it up a gear or three! I have therefore set up a sponsorship page on JustGiving, to let the world know of what I am trying to achieve, but also to remind myself of why I'm putting myself through a marathon in the first place.
 
 
As you may or may not know, in a pure moment of madness I have signed up for the Paris Marathon, to take place on 6th April 2014. I was born in Paris, I spent a year there during uni and my brother lives there now so what better marathon to do as a first? :)
 

 

 I was born in Versailles don't ya know! :)
 

 

 
My beautiful sister has been trying to get me to sign up to one for a while and to be honest, the thought has always scared me. But then, after this summer, I thought why not, what excuse do I truly have to say no and what is the worse that can happen?
 
My lovely godmother Jane ran a marathon in her fifties for the first time, and may or may not have had lung cancer already when she did. But she loved it and finished it! Jane died in July after an 8 month battle. It was an aggressive form of cancer and she could just not fight it despite her best efforts. I managed to see her before she went, and she got to meet Hugo, but I still think of her everyday. In her eulogy, she was described as a second mother to Chloe, Alexis and I, and it is true, she was just that. My mother has also lost her sister and I cannot bear to think the pain she is suffering from this loss, I cannot imagine life without Chloe or Alexis.
 
Alongside, my grand-dad is also battling terminal cancer. He was given 3 - 6 months to live back in August 2012, but he is still fighting today, although slowly losing his battle. Although not aggressive in the way Jane's cancer has been, this is equally as horrible, as it just lingers on and does not provide much comfort to my grand dad or his family.
 
I am lucky however that despite being diagnosed in 2011, my mother was successfully treated for cancer, although she still had to battle cancer and necessary surgeries. And in July this year, the best form of Cancer arrived, my son Hugo. Reminding us that where there is death, there is also life.
 
Nevertheless, cancer seems to be everywhere. I know I am not the only one in this position, as sadly many of my friends have family members battling cancer as I write. When my mum told me about Jane, I did worry about what it meant for me in terms of my chances of getting cancer, but mostly, I worried about whether this meant my children were more at risk too? As much as the doctors say no, it doesn't stop me thinking about it as cancer seems to be everywhere these days.

I will therefore be running the Paris Marathon (and the Bath half marathon as part of my training) as a reminder to make the most of life when you can, and to try and fundraise a little while I'm at it. However, as much as I love the benefits of exercising, I can be lazy about kicking myself out of the door to do it. So I have set up this page as a reminder for why I signed up for the marathon in the first place: if Jane could do it, so can I. And I am lucky to be able to run in the first place, so I am going to enjoy this every step of the way. I know I will have bad days, and will most likely think at times I cannot complete the race, but hopefully, by focussing on the good as well as the bad, this will truly be an amazing experience.
 
I know many of you have helped me raise money for Macmillan in the past, for which I am extremely grateful. I will therefore not harass you for sponsorship. But support in any way or form towards my training would mean the world to me!
 
 
Thanks for reading and helping me try to beat cancer xxxx
 
Now for the official bit about fundraising through JustGiving in case you are not familiar with them:
"Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity."
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*All images unless otherwise noted are my own, so please do not use them without my permission.*

Friday, 29 November 2013

My Friday Favourites ~ Christmas Party Outfit

 
With December almost upon us, it is inevitable that the Christmas parties descend upon us! Despite being on maternity leave, I still intend to go to my work's party tonight, even if part of me is dreading spending money on drinks (how much for a cocktail!?) as well as having to queue an hour in the cold for a taxi surrounded by drunk students... Yep, I am officially getting old!
 
But I am looking forward to going out, and meeting up with my friends. We are all so busy we never have time to properly catch up when meeting for lunch in the week, so tonight should be good. It also feels great having an excuse to dress up and wear heals, as well as lots of makeup (as in some make-up rather than the au naturel look I harbour most days...).
 
After weeks of "nothing fits me", I finally found a dress that fits my new post pregnancy body (with a little help from magic pants it must be said!). I saw this one early on in my shopping trip, and after a day of looking at black little dresses all I could think was how I loved the colour of this one. Also got 20% off as it had a little stain (which has washed out) so even better! I'll pair it up with this necklace from Warehouse, and shoes wise, I intend to rely my faithful Shellys, which I bought for a fiver online ten years ago, and still look great! Just need to figure out what colour nail polish to go for (black maybe?) and manage to get ready while taking care of the two bambini and I'll be ready to go to the ball!
 
What are your favourite Christmas parties outfits? Do you rely on the same one or do you like to try different styles? 
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*All images unless otherwise noted are my own, so please do not use them without my permission.*

Thursday, 28 November 2013

The pink fluffiness trap... or is it?

When Barry and I found out we were expecting a baby girl, one of the first thing we told our families was that we would not be dressing her in pink from head to toe, in order to avoid an invasion of pink, fluffy outfits being gifted for our bambina. Later on, when Siena told us that her favourite colour was orange, we were thrilled!
 
As she approaches her third birthday though, her wardrobe does hold a variety of pink items of clothing, including pink wellies, pink boots, raincoat with pink and purple flowers, pink hat-snood-gloves set... She has also at times stated that her favourite colour is pink, although that still varies from green, yellow, and orange so we won't hold her to that just yet.
 
When we then found out that we were expecting a boy, we realised that pretty much most of Siena's clothes were pink or purple... (however as most were gifts and/or hand me downs we didn't mind as extremely grateful for the gifts in the first place!). We therefore had to get rid of most in order to replace them with babywear suitable for a little bambino.
 
Interestingly enough, Hugo seems to constantly be wearing blue and we don't even bat an eyelid.
 
Siena all in pink and Hugo all in blue
 
I can't help but wonder who thought, one day, that boys should only wear blue and play with action toys, whereas girls would wear pink and play with dolls... Did you know that originally, in the 1900s, it was the other way round? Apparently, pink being a more decided and stronger colour, was considered more suitable for the boy, while blue, was reserved for girls as it was considered paler, and the more dainty of the two colours.
 
I do find it weird that we worry of Siena turning into a ball of fluffiness and a wanabee pink princess just because she says her favourite colour is pink... Afterall, I wear far more pink than I wear green (see my Christmas party outfit on tomorrow's post... can't get more pink than that really!). and as I stated above Hugo mostly wears blue (with a little green here and there naturally). It is true that when shopping for clothes, it can be difficult to find clothes that are not pink for girls, or blue for boys. My friend from South Africa lent me lots of green clothes and muslins for Hugo, so maybe I need to go shopping there some time!
 
However it has to be said Siena does look beautiful in pink, which is why we have bought her some pink clothes. At the end of the day, I don't think it really matters. Even when she is dressed in pink from head to toe, people still refer to her as "the little boy" as she has short hair... And Hugo is mostly surrounded by pink muslins as I'm reusing the ones Siena had as a baby. Ultimately, they are both happy bambini. Siena loves being a girly girl playing with her dolls and serving everyone tea. But she also loves playing at being a doctor, running around outdoors getting muddy, following her dad around the garden asking him lots of questions about plants and what he is doing. We don't really believe in gender specific activities. Instead we try and be guided by her personality and her likes and dislikes, to help us in finding things to do with her.
 
We also try and keep her options open in relation to colours, and not focus solely on one colour so she can form her own preference growing up. For this reason we love the clothes at Next and Sainsbury's. I have to say though, when she says that her favourite colour is green like me, I do secretly love it! ;)
 
What about you? Does your child primarily wear pink or blue? If so, is it by choice or has it crept up on you? Do you find that you feel differently as to what colour(s) your daughter wears compared to your son? I would love to hear from you.
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*All images unless otherwise noted are my own, so please do not use them without my permission.*

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Silent Sunday

 
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*All images unless otherwise noted are my own, so please do not use them without my permission.*

Friday, 15 November 2013

My Friday Favourite

So it's starting to get cold now in Bristol, which I guess is to be expected as Christmas is only six weeks away.... (anyone else in denial about this?). I've been wanting a proper thick duffle coat for years but never got round to treating myself. Well. This summer, I discovered Boden, when I got given several pairs of shoes that my godmother had ordered but sadly never got to wear. Since then, I have kept an eye on their catalogue. It is more expensive than the shops I usually shop in (Ok, a lot more expensive), but I love the colours and originality their clothes reflect. The other day, I received an email saying there was 22% off everything online, so had a little nose on the website and fell in love with this duffle coat. I ordered it Wednesday before 5pm and boom! it was delivered the following morning at 7:45am... Amazing! I have already worn it, obviously, teamed up with turned up skinny jeans and my leopard flats I love. But I think it will also look amazing with my wellies!
 
 
Since this summer, I have definitely gone a little crazy with new items... Nothing I can't afford and not getting into any debt or anything, but still spending more than I should. Being on maternity leave and therefore at home a lot to receive deliveries doesn't help. I still love getting basic items of clothing from H&M, as I would describe my style as fairly simple, with strong accessories. But I have to say, there is definitely something to be said about having a few key items in your wardrobe which may have cost a little more and will hopefully last longer.
 
What is your favourite winter item of clothing at the moment? Do you believe in spending a little more to get more durable clothes or do you prefer shopping for bargains? I would to hear from you!
 
I hope you all have an amazing weekend! What have you got planned?
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*All images unless otherwise noted are my own, so please do not use them without my permission.*

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Mmmmmm haggis!

Barry quickly realised that one of the (many!) joys of having a foreign girlfriend is that I introduce him to new foods. Although not French but Scottish, I do have Scottish ancestors (as well as French, English, Maltese, Italian, amongst others! or maybe that's it?)
 
If you have not heard of haggis before, it is described as:
 
"Scottish round sausage: a Scottish dish made from chopped lamb's heart, lungs, and liver mixed with suet, oats, onions, and seasonings, which is packed into a round sausage skin and usually boiled."
 
If that doesn't get your appetite going, I don't what will! ;) In all seriousness though, it is delicious and one of our winter favourites! Barry does not normally eat any organs/offal but really likes haggis, so definitely try it at least once before you turn it down! Siena loves it too but then she does eat pretty much everything so we're quite lucky :)
 
This is how I like to cook it:
 
You will need:
* one haggis,
* one big onion
* lovely thick gravy
* 3 big potatoes
 
(Serves about 4... or 2 if you are really hungry!)
 
1. Cook the haggis as per instructions. I think you can boil it but I always remove it from its packaging, place it in a casserole dish with a lid and in the oven it goes, as per the instructions on the packet. I believe it's about 1 hour 20 minutes.
 
 
2. Next, I chop the onion in nice thick slices, and slowly cook them in a little butter so they go lovely and soft, but I take them off the heat before they go too soft as I like a little crunch left in them.
 
 
3. Once the haggis is cooked, I fluff it up with a fork, top it with the onions, followed by lots of lovely thick gravy. Finally, cover it all with mashed potato, and grill it for a bit to get a little colour on the mash (as you can see from the photo below, I failed on this last point).
 






















Et voila! An amazing winter comfort! Despite taking a fairly long time to cook, it involves minimal preparation and is very, very tasty!
 
 
What is your favourite winter comfort food? Have you introduced your family/partners to some new food they had never before they met you? I would love to hear from you!
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*All images unless otherwise noted are my own, so please do not use them without my permission.*

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Fireworks Night

Running a little behind this week, and only updating now about last weekend, when the new one is about to start!!
 
We spent last weekend in Berkhamsted, staying with some friends of ours. It was the first time we'd been, and had a really good time. It is also a beautiful little place, really easy to get to.
 
On the Saturday, we attended our first firework display with the kids. In the past Siena, has been a little wary of loud noises such as the vacuum cleaner etc, ironic considering she isn't exactly the quiet type... Because of this, we weren't sure how she would react to the fireworks. We did our usual of talking it up, and ensuring she had a nap before we went (which for once, worked! yay!). So off we set towards the display. Siena was really excited and had picked up on our enthusiasm as she chatted away happily all the way there. I bought her a necklace made of glow sticks and a foam stick thing with flashing lights which also kept her amused, and also useful for keeping track of her should i lose her in the crowd, but after my recent events I did keep a firm grip on her little hand. She also had a sip of the mulled wine I was drinking while waiting for the display to start (she is French after all!). Siena really seemed to enjoy it and we had lovely cuddles throughout sat on the ground watching them together. Hugo didn't enjoy them quite as much, but got cuddles from Barry throughout so quickly settled down afterwards.
 
On the way home Siena kept talking about the fireworks, how they weren't scary, but really, really good! Overall, really pleased with the evening.
 
The following morning, there was a French market in town, so my friend (who is also French) and I really enjoyed speaking French and buying lots of good food from home! We then had a lovely walk by the canal feeding bread to the ducks, until some geese bullied us away from the area. A short play on the swings and we went home for a lovely homecooked chicken dish. Mmmmmmmmm....
 
On the way home, as it was late and we felt lazy so we picked up a MacDonalds. I had the food on my lap in the car for the drive home, and the following conversation took place:
-Mummy you need to share it
-What? You mean this isn't all for me?
-No you have to share it.
(after some reflection)
-You can have some of Daddy's if you want. Not mine. I am going to eat mine aaaaaaaaall up. But you can have some of Daddy's.
 
Charming. Needless to say Barry was not impressed... I quickly learned on our first date he does not share food!
 
We have another busy weekend ahead of us... Kids are off to my sister's tomorrow so Barry and I can go to the cinema and enjoy a lie in Saturday. Then taking part in a Toddler and Baby Table Sale on Saturday morning before heading up to Devizes to pick up the kids and enjoy a walk somewhere in the area.
 
Did you get to see any fireworks? Have you got any plans for the weekend?
 



 

  

 

 
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*All images unless otherwise noted are my own, so please do not use them without my permission.*

Friday, 1 November 2013

How has your week been?

It has been another long week, but I am determined to focus on the good as well as the bad. Last Friday we went up North again to go visit my grandparents in their carehome. It took us over nine hours to get there which was fun! We stayed at their house and saw them as much as we could. They are in their mid 90s. My Grand-dad has terminal cancer and is broken hearted from the loss of his daughter. He was so weak it broke my heart. But, he seemed delighted to see Siena and she was great, giving him lots of hugs and kisses. My Grandma seemed well enough, and we had good chats with her, including discussing her trips to Alexandria when she was young and living in Malta. She truly is an amazing woman, like the ones you read in novels!
 
While up North, we went to Sunderland's Winter Garden as Barry is now obsessed with plants // Siena wrote a birthday card for my Grandma// Barry is convinced Hugo is close to walking... at three months// we had beautiful weather including rain and sunshine at the same time // Hugo can now sit in his highchair and is enjoying being weaned onto proper food // I've been swimming and running this week so feeling a little better about my marathon training // Siena looked great in her Halloween costume and Hugo looked Frightfully Cute // I actually sat down and did some painting with Siena, she loved it! // I received my first Cara Box.
 
How has your week been? What plans do you have for the weekend?
 



 

 
 
 
http://www.greenlovinggirl.com/2013/10/cara-box-exchange.html
 
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*All images unless otherwise noted are my own, so please do not use them without my permission.*
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