Sunday, 24 September 2017

My Sunday Photo - Week 143 Q is for Quirky, Queer and Quality

Peter and I visited the Autumn Show at the 3 Counties Show Ground in Malvern on Saturday. We lived in Malvern prior to emigrating and attended all the shows there every year, usually with kids, parents and friends. 

This year, our first time back in 7 years, it was just the 2 of us and we had great fun exploring without having to meet the needs of others and spent way too much time in the wonky and giant veg tent wondering if any of this when grown to this size actually tastes as good as the normal sized ones and who the hell has the patience or the tools needed to peel and cook it all.

One Daily Positive - Week 38

An up and down week emotionally, but as Peter says that's normal for me and I'm starting now to think about when I'm returning to Dubai. Mum's house is sold, so need to find somewhere for her to live, find the teen a job and a home, get the tax return completed and a few blogging assignments written and I'll be off. I expect to be done in the next 3-4 weeks.

260 Sunday Relax
Peter and I went for a walk around the town and took a couple of short cuts across the fields, then ended up taking us well out of our way. Child 2 and 2a joined us at my Mum's for a Sunday roast.

261 Monday Yay!
Took the last of Dad's stuff to the skip today, not an easy task throwing videos and tins of paint away, should be an easy job, but it wasn't. The staff were great and helped out by saving me the stress of sorting through all the paint and oil.

262 Tuesday My Desk
Took Mum to Newport to meet up with Dad's friend who he's known since the day they were born and who with his wife, who died 5 years ago, were Mum and Dad's best friends. Mum then had an appointment at the Royal Gwent and the evening was spent in the flat catching up with blogging stuff.

263 Wednesday Sweet
Collected the teen from Stratford and drove home through the Cotswolds, stopping off at Bourton on the Water for lunch and Ice Cream.

264 Thursday Depth
Not a good day for me, I feel overloaded, can't do right for doing wrong, trying too hard, not doing enough and admitted defeat, sending Peter out for the day with child 1, 2 and 2a while I got rid of a potential migraine and lined up some house viewings for Mum for next week.

265 Friday Water Splash - Splashing out with family and friends
I won't be with Peter for his 60th birthday in October so I invited family and friends to join us for a birthday meal to celebrate early before he flies home on Sunday. This was the early part with the family, our friends joined us afterwards for a table for 20. I'm sure we'll have a few celebrations back in Dubai also.
2, Hubby Thing 2, Sister, her partner, Thing 3, Nephew in law, Niece, thumbs up from 5, Mini me, Mum, Thing 1 and Me.

266 Saturday Fly
Up early and after coffee with Peter's Mother, we spent the day at the Malvern Autumn Show. We lived in Malvern before we emigrated and this is the first time we've been back to one of the shows and the first time we've been without kids, parents or other people and it was lovely to wander around at our own speed, have a picnic, browse the stalls and watch the sheep dog show without having to consider other people's needs.

On the blog this week:

My Sunday Photo - C is for Cave. Another day out just Peter and I to Wookey Hole.
Triumphant Tales and TweensTeensBeyond - A Care Package for a Soldier. My son in the Middle East.
PoCoLo - What not to flush down a toilet.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Toilet humour

Well it's obviously been an issue at some point in time for signs to be put up.

I've never considered flushing clothing down a toilet, have you?

These are common signs in South African toilets, trust me, you'll be very grateful that the instructions are followed.

What's the strangest toilet sign you've seen?

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Care package for a solider

My son, child 4, was deployed to the Middle East this summer. He's based in the UK and I live in Dubai. I've spent the summer in the UK and will return to Dubai in October. I visited him and his girlfriend and her family in June and sadly as my father passed away in July, they both spent a lot of time on the mainland with me before he was deployed. I've seen far more of child 4 than I normally would.

We chat most days on social media and skype weekly, post flits too and fro also. But while he's based in the Middle East it's more important to me and him that we keep the channels of communication open as much as possible.

The British Army offer a free service for family members of soldiers, when they are based abroad to send 'gifts from home' free of charge via the Post Office using a BFPO number, up to 2kg in weight and recommend packing items in a shoe box.

Now I am a dab hand at packing shoe boxes having worked as a volunteer for 5 years with the Santa Shoe Box Project in South Africa where in Pretoria as part of a team we collected and distributed up to 10,000 shoe boxes to disadvantaged children in the area, with 110,000 collected countrywide.

Due to personal circumstances, this will be the first year I've been unable to take part in the project. We lived in Pretoria for 4 years, before moving to Dubai and I returned last year for 6 weeks to help out. I hope to back on board next year.

Like the Santa Shoe Box Project there are certain items that can't be packed in boxes and requirements for the way items are packed.

Toiletries and liquids must go in zip lock bags to prevent spillage.
Chocolate melts in temperatures in excess of 30c. Pack sweets and high energy snack bars instead.

Now my son has access to shops on base, he can pretty much get everything he needs, he just has preferences and somethings such as toiletries are expensive.

When you're 1000's of miles away from home and as an expat I know and appreciate how lonely and difficult it is, any contact with family and friends, regardless of however small it is, is greatly received and as child lived with us in South Africa and took part in the SSB projects also, he's rather keen to receive his very own shoe box.

He's moaned a little at some of the stuff I've put in, no doubt I've probably caused a few raised eye brows, but he has photo's, letters, sweets, toiletries, sun cream, playing cards, magazines, plasters, foot creams and what he doesn't want or need he can share with his colleagues or those who maybe don't have family or family who realise just how lonely and isolating it can be living so far from home.

I've got 3 themed boxes lined up to send as well as the regular ones for my mum to post out at set times. There's a Halloween one, a Christmas one and one for his Birthday.

There are a couple of rules and tips on packing a box which are:

  • Keep the box plain, don't identify the country where the solider is deployed to and write your return address inside the box.

  • Write the number of the box and date sent on the outside, that way the receiver will know if they're missing a box.

  • Write messages and decorate the inside of the box. Pick up postcards of where you've been and just write random messages.

  • Don't wrap individual items, customs may check the contents.

  • Wait to seal the box until you've had it weighed at the post office, put the roll of selotape inside the box, as tape can add a few grams to the parcel, once you've got the weight right, remove the roll and seal the box.
One final tip........

Don't forget the girlfriend, send her a box too.

You can read more here about my Santa Shoe Box Journey 

This service is for family members only and the military personal (male or female) will give you a BFPO number with the details you need. The box is sent to a UK address where they are then forwarded to where they are posted.

There are registered organisations who allow individuals to send parcels out to support troops in the front line where you can pack similar boxes, there are plenty to be found on google, but I have never used any so cannot endorse or recommend.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

My Sunday Photo - Week 142 - C is for Cave

Peter and I spent Friday at Wookey Hole, exploring the caves and a game of crazy golf that I won, only because Peter lost his golf ball in a water hazard.

One Daily Positive - Week 37

A roller coaster of a week. We went to Lyme Regis for a few days and I was a mess. It was the first time since my Dad died 9 weeks ago that I'd been away for more than 24 hours and I felt very frightened about returning to Dubai in the near future, knowing that when I next come back to the UK my Dad won't be here. It was also the first time I had time with Peter on my own to really talk properly and not be the person everyone else was turning to for support. I had a panic attack in a shop, my legs went from underneath me and I couldn't breathe. I've also had a bad does of the flu, nut a few days on the beach, the fresh air, some time alone while Peter went fishing and finishing the week off with a shopping trip and catching up with friends, I feel a lot better.

253 Sunday What's the story?
My sister took me to Ledbury and I caught the train to Birmingham airport to collect Peter, we sorted car hire, picked up the teen from Stratford and returned to South Wales.

254 Monday TV
Off to Gloucester to visit Child 1 and then collected my niece from school, we explored the castle, some tunnels and had ice cream.

255 Tuesday My World
We drove to Lyme Regis, stoppimg off in Keynsham to visit MIL for coffee, checking in at the B&B and finding a pub for dinner after a walk along the sea front.

256 Wednesday Sharp
We set off after breakfast to Weymouth, but after getting halfway there turned round and went to Exmouth for the day, where we battled the wind and rain and walked along the sea front. My parents were due a holiday in Weymouth this week and I just couldn't face going there, knowing that we would've been meeting up with them under different circumstances. Peter's friend came down for the evening and another pub dinner.

257 Thursday If Pets could talk
Peter and his friend took the boat out for the day, I wandered around the town, went back to the B&B after my panic attack then pulled myself together and went hunting for fossils on Monmouth Beach. Back to the pub for dinner.

258 Friday Music
Up early for a walk on the beach and stopped at Wookey Hole on the way home, we had a game of crazy golf, lunch and got lost in the hall of mirrors. Called in at MIL's on the way home. The teen went back to Stratford for a few days.

259 Saturday Hug
Met Mum in town for coffee, dumped a weeks worth of washing on her and headed off to visit child 1, took her to the Quay's and did some shopping. Met up with some friends for a drink, called in at mum's for an hour and spent the evening chilling out in the flat.

On the blog this week:

My Sunday Photo - A is for App, Arrivals and Aeroplane
PoCoLo TriumphantTales TweenTeensBeyond - What makes a strong woman?

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

What makes a strong woman?

I actually can't answer that question, but it's something I've been called several times over the past few months.

In fact it's something I've been called since I small along with many other names.

Independent, strong willed, stroppy, bossy, determined, controlling.

I of course don't think I'm any of the above, I am just me. I just get on with things. I don't necessarily find things easy. In fact I find most things a challenge, I find it difficult to ask for help, not because I'm controlling, but because I don't often know what help I need until the situation unfolds and I often find that at that particular point in time no one is available and I just throw myself into sorting it out and then on reflection realise what a stressful and difficult situation I've just got myself in and out of.

My life is quite challenging to the outside world and it's often said that I attract challenges or go seeking them out, but I don't.

I have 5 children. One is profoundly disabled and in care. I'm married and live in Dubai. I don't currently work.

In June I was ill, I went to the UK.

In July I underwent tests, child 5 left school, my Dad died, family came over for the funeral, child 3 moved to Australia, neighbour from hell harassing me and an anti social behaviour order obtained.

In August the house was sorted, stuff sold, family visited on and off, several skip runs, my friends Dad died, another funeral, a friend from Dubai died.

In September, so far, a friends Mum died, child 4 was deployed to the Middle East, child 5 still looking for an apprenticeship,

Life just happens and I have no choice but to deal with it, I make mistakes, I cry, I scream, I often throw the towel in and walk away. I argue and shout with my nearest and dearest, accuse them of not helping me, of often causing me more stress, I cause people to back off from me, I push people away, then I scream at how unfair it is that no one is helping and supporting me.

I don't have a job, I don't have children to look after, I don't actually have a role in life other than to be the fixer, the sorter. I get pushed to the front, I push my self to the front, to sort, to help, to save the day.

I get no thanks, I feel used.

I get thanked and I feel it's unnecessary.

I just do what I do, because I am me, I'm not strong, I'm just like everyone else.

I just do things my way, sometimes it's appreciated and understood, other times it's considered unnecessary and often unwanted, but that's just how I am, take the rough with the smooth, like it or not. I am just me.

If you think I'm a strong woman, if that makes you feel any less, then you don't really know me. I'm not strong. I'm just doing what I do, when I do, because it's what I do, it's what I am.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

My Sunday Photo - Week 141 A is for Apps, Arrivals and Aeroplane

Isn't technology marvellous? At 7.15am this morning, my Husband sent a Whatsapp message from this very plane with a picture from the window captioned 'Iran' I replied with 'Actually you're flying over Iraq' 

I was tracking him on Plane Finder.

I made my way by train to Birmingham Airport and tracking his flight I made sure I was at the arrival window to take this photo as his flight from Dubai landed at 12.14pm.

I then went for coffee in the cafe opposite and waited for him to pass immigration and collect his suitcase and clear customs, before collecting the hire car and returning to South Wales for the next 2 weeks before I track him when he returns to Dubai. 

Hopefully he'll be tracking my return flight sometime in October.

One Daily Positive - Week 36

It's been a tough week, it's been 8 weeks since dad died, child 4 was finally deployed and it was Dad's 78th birthday. It really does feel like we're slowly getting rid of every part of Dad's life, as if it never mattered. We know that isn't the case and the reality is we can't keep everything and I know we're probably moving at quite a speed but a) Mum is moving and b) the reason we're doing it so quickly is because I'm in the UK so might as well make use of me being here and they were wanting to move so why not just get on with it. Is it any easier to do this in 8 weeks, 8 months, 8 years? Who knows? We have nothing to compare it to. Others who have done it over different timescales can't tell us whether it's better or not because they only did it one way, their way and we're doing it ours.

246 Sunday Roast - Dinner for 1
Took the teen to the neighbouring town to spend the day working at an event with his cousin and I popped in to see child 1, didn't take her out as I was on my own and the weather was poor, did a bit of shopping and popped into see a friend on the way home.

247 Monday Back to School - Job hunting for the teen, our school days our over now
The plans for the day were scuppered when Mum had back spasms and sister and I decided we were unable to physically get her in the car so called an ambulance, the paramedic who arrived was the one who attended Dad 8 weeks ago, I almost had a break down when I saw him pull up. After sorting mum out and speaking with concerned neighbours, I cooked dinner, tidied up and my front tooth fell out, seriously I couldn't make these things up. This then threw the whole week out.

248 Tuesday My Passion - Researching the family tree and writing letters
Went to the dentist first thing then to Mum's to tidy up ready for a viewing in the afternoon, had coffee in town, bought a couple of birthday cards and a gift and I spent the evening writing letters which I love to do, sadly, not as many ever come back these days. Child 4 was finally deployed to the Middle East, a delay of 8 weeks.

249 Wednesday Tasty - Looked better than it actually tasted
I'd made arrangements with 'webuycarstoday' to sell Dad's Jaguar, they came in the morning to check it over and arrange payments, it was Dad's pride and joy. Mum and I took the teen to Newport for some shopping and spent the evening watching TV and caught up with Mondays missed paperwork.

250 Thursday I'm Thinking - Exploring the places Dad travelled to and comparing destinations
Dad's 78th birthday, I'd already bought his card and gift before he died. His gift was added to the train set sales and his card still sits in the plastic wrap in a drawer. After school, mum, the teen, my sister, her 6 yo daughter and 22 yo daughter with her 3 boys and I all went to Wetherspoons for our tea, we'd have probably gone here with Dad for his birthday tea. I just wanted us to do something nice to mark the day. I had a migraine and went to bed early.

251 Friday Looking Down
Drove the teen to Stratford upon Avon to spend the weekend with his girlfriend. I met up with the lovely Mary (over40andamumtoone) she drove over from a neighbouring town to see me for the day. Mary has been one of a number of people who has supported me via messages since my Dad died, just 'thinking of you' 'how are you today?' it's been so nice to know people I've never met to date are so caring, in fact (you know who you are) project 365 people, you've been bloody wonderful.

252 Saturday Beautiful - Missing home and looking forward to next week
Peter arrives tomorrow so I spent most of the day cleaning the flat and trying to tidy up all the stuff I've been storing of the teens and child 3 since he emigrated to Australia at the end of July. I really need to get the teen moved and settled before I return to Dubai in October. Popped over on the bike to see a friend for a couple of hours and borrow her printer, did a food shop on the way home.

Peter and I are having a few days away next week, which I'm very much looking forward to and desperately need, especially as I finished the week with 'man flu'

On the blog this week:

My Sunday Photo - V is for View
TweensTeensBeyond, TriumphantTales & PoCoLo - Age appropriate toys for special needs adults

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

What are age appropriate toys when you have Special Needs?

This is my almost 30 year old step daughter, she has multiple special needs and physical difficulties. She does not communicate verbally or with PECS (Picture Exchange). She does not respond well to hand over hand activities, anything and everything will be put in her mouth, sand gets rubbed in her eyes, paint would be smeared around, play dough eaten and water trays would be emptied all over her and she really does not cooperate with a clean up process.

She needs 24/7 supervision and full support to do everything. Dressing, feeding, going to bed, getting up, toileting, finances etc.

She lives in a care home with one other woman and full time care staff, she attends physio, horse riding, swimming. Has visits from the Occupational Therapist, has trips into town for cake and lunch, enjoys visits to the supermarket, walks and trips out in the car.

A full and busy life, but there is lots of time when she is in her home, she has access to a sensory room, but due to their being a ridge to access and another service user and often only 1 staff member she rarely uses it and if the staff member is in the kitchen managing paper work or cooking she will stand and watch, but once they have to do something else, she wanders back to her room, where she favours and just sits for hours on her bed.

The staff are unable to restrict access to her room, they're also unable to encourage/make her stay in the sensory room. They are also unable to lift her off the floor or move her manually into another room.

She receives a lot of 1:1 time and care, but does not entertain herself, she will follow you from room to room and if you're busy will just wander off back to her room, she doesn't seek out activities or toys, you have to keep her supplied with items that light up, make a noise and have a sensory feel to them. They have to be indestructible, sturdy, but not too sturdy that they won't hurt you when after she's put it in her mouth she throws them across the room.

She doesn't stack things, sort things, work out that if she pushes a button, there's a reaction, she just shakes it, tastes it and lobs it.

This makes it difficult to find things that she can entertain herself with. She has access to a ball pool, a water filled floor mattress, there are fibre optics in the room and cushions and soft toys. I introduced a CD player to the room on the weekend and suggested furniture was moved and that the staff member did their paperwork in the room to encourage her and the other service user to stay in the room, which they did.

I then went out shopping for some new toys. I was faced with a limited selection. I tried several shops, too many toys were unsuitable, small parts, too sturdy and likely to cause others damage, too many small parts that could be swallowed, too flimsy and could be ripped apart.
I usually end up buying her baby rattles and musical instruments, but they're made from plastic or wood and after being biffed several times, which really hurts, I'm always on the look out for alternatives.

It would be nice to buy toys for her that were a bit more age appropriate, toys that weren't manufactured for babies or had peppa pig or paw patrol on them, regardless of the fact that doesn't register with her anyway.

This is what I've come up with so far from Asda, The Range and The Works. Total spent £18. I'm still looking out for some stretchy toys, handheld stress balls, solid enough not to hurt anyone, but not too soft to be bitten into and more toys that light up or make a noise when shaken, so if you know where I can get these from, please let me know.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

My Sunday Photo -Week 140 V is for View

Life is starting to return to normal after my father's sudden death in July. A new normal, bearing in my mind my home is in Dubai and I'm going to be in the UK for a while longer yet.

The original purpose of my visit was to help the teen with his apprenticeship applications and to find him somewhere to live, we've been delayed by 8 weeks, but I'm on it now. I was also here to sort out our new flat in South Wales and house we rent out in Malvern as well as paperwork for investments, UK tax and a few other bits and pieces.

Slowly I've started to get round to doing some of the above now and I'm on top of things with mum. Peter arrives next Sunday for 2 weeks and we'll be travelling around the UK having a bit of a holiday and hopefully seeing a bit more than the inside of the shed, garage, attic and the view of a field from the car boot.

The view from the Wyche Cutting, Malvern.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

One Daily Positive - Week 35

I've been a bit preoccupied over the past 8 weeks after my fathers death and have let an awful lot of things slide. The flat became a dumping ground, it's now clean and tidy and organised,w ashing up to date and the fridge stocked. While I've been sorting mum's paperwork and affairs out I'd let mine slide and I'm spending next week sorting out the stuff I need to do in relation to our UK property, banking and investments and prioritising the teen with his apprenticeship applications which was the initial purpose of my UK visit.

What I haven't let fall by the wayside is keeping up with birthdays and other important events. I have been saddened though by the lack of response I've received from some friends in regards to my dad's death, it takes 2 minutes to send a message on face book to say 'thinking of you' I've managed to pop out and buy a birthday card and send it on time, there's been no condolence card sent or even a message to say 'thanks for the birthday card/letter/gift' I've been particularly upset by the lack of interest from some who I have supported in the past with the loss of their loved ones, people who have lost their parents and even family pets, or have had ill relatives, long term hospital stays or accidents who after the initial 'sorry to hear about your dad' haven't made any further contact. 

On a positive though, my friendships with others have developed further, some people I've never met message on a regular basis to let me know they're thinking of me and to ask how I'm doing and to offer words of advice. People who have obviously been or are going through similar, some who have never experienced it. I have 2 close friends who have lost a parent this year. 1 friend lost her mother in January, her father 5 years ago, she has been sorting the same levels of collecting out as I have, the other friend lost her father 2 weeks after mine died. We've been able to support one another though the initial stages and the funerals. My father's cousin's wife died the same week also, their daughter and I have been friends from childhood, we're in touch daily, sharing emotions, experiences, feelings. 

I've never lived in the town where my parents now live, I've been here almost 3 months, the first 2 friends above, live here and in a neighbouring town where I did go to school, and when I had children I lived just over the border. I'm making new friends here, chatting with their neighbours, being a regular in the local coffee shop. My friends in Dubai have been in touch and I much as I've loved being around my family here, I do need to go home and return to my life over there, but with a different set of priorities of who matters and who doesn't anymore.

239 Sunday Ice cream
Mum was away for the weekend with my sister, so I tidied and cleaned the flat and had a walk into town, before popping in to visit Thing 1 and Thing 2 for ice cream.

 240 Monday Bank Holiday Fun
A morning in town with my eldest niece and her family, then sorting papers at mums, collected mini me, my 6 year old niece and baby sat for the evening, putting her to bed and chilling out, waiting for my sister and mum to return from Brighton.

241 Tuesday Sand castle
 Today's photo prompt didn't fit so I made an impromptu visit to mini me's to play with the sea shells I've brought her from my travels around the world.

242 Wednesday Creation
Visited my Aunt in Cwmbran and set off to find my Gran's parents family grave, no headstone, but with help from one of the council workers we were able to locate the plot in Christchurch cemetery.

243 Thursday Happy
Thing 2's 2nd birthday, off to McDonalds at lunch time, followed by a birthday tea and cake.

244 Friday Children - finding out about my great great grandparents and their great, great, great, grand children, which would be my children.
Sorted out my old bike at Dad's ended up wheeling it into town to get tyres blown up and chain fixed, then wheeled it up the hill to my mates, where we sat and researched family trees late into the evening, ended up wheeling the bike home as I didn't have working lights.

245 Saturday Calm
Day spent blogging, drinking coffee, eating chocolate, researching the family tree, off for a bike ride later to mums and will be having an early night.

On the blog this week:

My Sunday Photo M is for Memories
PoCoLo and TriumphantTales Things to do before you die