Reasons To Be Cheerful #1

Okay, so we're finally at the end of January and that's probably one huge reason for a lot of us to be feeling more cheerful. I was supposed to write this post up the first week of January but as usual life got in the way: oh well.

I do have many reasons to smile despite the miserable weather and the long month. The main reason I can say this is because I have been keeping an (almost) daily journal of all the good parts of that day (even if the only good part is that I haven't gone off my trolley by the end of it!)

Here are some of my reasons to be cheerful this week:

1. Mr K has finally picked up his pencils again and has made his first picture of 2020 for me. It is my beautiful dog Peppa who passed away last year very suddenly. She is so loved and missed. I will be framing her and finding a special place for her in our home.

2. I have finally found the secret to an amazing milk free and gluten free (most importantly!) Yorkshire pudding mix: Gram Flour! Also known as chickpea flour. I cannot tell you how happy this has made me (clue, very) 

3. An impromptu visit to Eastgate House today for some history with Will. 

4. Mr K's power chair has been ordered! We hope it'll be here next week.

5. All the kids are making progress with their schooling. They all feel the pressure slightly these days, the younger 2 are having to go through this new times tables testing in a few months. Midge is having to do revision and exams already and she's only in year 7. They all seem to be doing their best and I can't be happier than with that plus Will is looking forward to school too, we now have an EHCP journey to embark upon to get this ready for him!

I've also managed to catch up with some family this week, attended the funeral of a lovely man which is obviously not a happy event but it was a lovely service and as a Christian we believe that this is only the beginning for such an amazing man. 

Hopefully I'll make it back next week too!

My 2020 Tick List

Just like last year I thought I would make a new list for this year. If you read my update then you will know how surprised I was to have accomplished as many of my goals last year as I did. I am hoping that by tth eend of 2020 I will have managed to do just as well.

Here is my list for 2020!

  • Sort Martyn a new wheelchair
This will be really beneficial for us both in the long run. We have chosen a really good chair and we just have to wait for it to all be put together and fit Martyn to ensure he's as comfortable as possible. It will mean I get to walk alongside him instead of pushing him all the time, he will hopefully be able to stand up from the chair like he used to do and he will also have more independence for example, he hasn't been out on his own for almost 2 years! 

  • Be more frugal and environmentally friendly
I have really scrutinised my budget. Living as we do, myself a full time carer to Martyn and himself on disability benefits for his Muscular Dystrophy we don't have much to play with when all is said and done. I would like to get better deals on some of our outgoings, shop smarter and using David Ramseys guide I want to build up an emergency savings to cover those unavoidable mishaps such as broken washing machines and what not! Then I can focus on paying off any debt quicker and hopefully feel a little more secure financially.

We also as a family want to focus on reducing and reusing. Buying second hand, not being wasteful, eating less meat and simply being more conscious of our world and environment.

  • Get our home decorated fully
We have 2 more rooms to decorate: the kitchen and our bedroom. It's taken me months to decorate the place and it's only a flat! I am a terrible procrastinator! We need to fit carpet into one of the bathrooms to make it accessible for Martyn and that's really about it. Just a few finishing touches here and there but I would love for it to all be done this year.

  • Help Martyn launch his artwork
Martyn is an amazing artist and we have been considering for some time to create him a business to sell his artwork. There is a lot to do but hopefully by the end of the year we have a good basis for it or maybe even be started.

  • Emergency fund and debt cut
Part of my frugal lifestyle mentioned above, this one is really important to me this year.

  • Giving back in some way.
Whether I manage to volunteer again, do something with one of the children's schools or find a charity I would like to regularly support, I hope to find some way of giving back. As always, this will something I pray on and wait to be shown.

  • Sort out a disabled badge for Martyn

  • Find coping mechanisms, need therapy less and hopefully be able to either have a regular massage or osteopath appointments to help with my lower back self care!

Some extra goals:

  • Make homemade candles for my home and family
  • Read 15 books
  • Do another christian festival
  • Do a journal
  • Make homemade Christmas gifts
  • Play 2 more songs on the piano
  • Donate to a good cause every month
  • Have a family gathering
  • Make sleep a priority and get into a good bedtime routine

Do you have any goals for this year? I'd love to read your posts your comments.

Book Review ~ I Am Your Friend By Billie Bacal

I was gifted a new book to review a month or so ago and I really wanted to give it a try.

I Am your Friend by Billie Bacal is aimed at helping your mindfulness during those moments you feel low, down or even depressed.

I've suffered with low mood and depression most of my life, since I was a teenager. I've found it really difficult to find coping mechanisms that help, instead reaching out for some junk food or curling up in the fetal position on my bed. Whilst there's nothing wrong with these things in a moment of self care they are self destructive if done long term, something all those with mental health issues will agree with.

Finding things that help can be difficult. When I heard about I Am Your Friend I wasn't entirely sure it would help much.  "I can't read when I'm not in a good place," I said to myself. When I read the rest of the notes I realised the book is more of a picture book of feel good doodles and artwork, very little reading and effort required.

Our 2019...

I bet loads of people would be surprised to see me posting a positive round up of 2019. It's true it was a fairly bad year. We had a real rollercoaster with social services being involved. We voluntarily asked for help but they didn't give us any help at all. 

When we followed some advice from one of our workers we ended up in a spiral when she left and it came out she had not documented a single peice of advice or guidance she gave us. This meant that we were viewed in a very negative way, instead of supporting us they started an investigation into our family life and how we treat our children. 

Obviously and thankfully this never went any further. We ended up getting rid of the social worker who did this to us and had a final one. One who did listen, who did empathise and did see us for us. We were under her for a few weeks and thankfully signed off which happened in the end of November, officially early December. Praise God! 

Although we went through that, we've had friends who have been unwell, family has passed away, it's been difficult. However, there is always a silver lining, reasons to smile and I know it wasn't all bad. 

So here's some positivity:

There were 4 very happy birthdays, six altogether really! Dressing up days at school and my parents visited in November so we had a lovely dinner a games night plus some quality time. We had lots of cooking days, especially with William and his home ed and a trip to London for Mr K's MD appointment. Although we don't go into London because it's such a tight schedule, I love seeing the views and buildings. 

Another year means another line up of the kids and their new school years, Mr K obtained some new piano lessons and even taught me a few songs! Family outings for walking and blackberry picking, soup making in the winter, the children went to Wales with my parents and Midge left year 6..eek!

I designed an awesome den for the front room: go me. We had a huge anniversary bash for my aunt and uncle which was amazing. Everyone got to meet Mr K after 2 years and loved him. Polling day came and went, which wasn't everyone's favourite time but it was the day we raised over £2000 for Mr K's electric wheelchair.

We had several cinema dates, Christingle was lovely this year and the church very full. Although we lost my gorgeous Peppa Dog she was remembered on our Christmas tree and always will be now. We had Christmas number 2 on new years day, I turned 30 and we enjoyed some pumpkin making for Halloween too. 

So many little moments and some rather big ones that are totally worth not writing 2019 off completely for. My faith has grown so much over the year too as has some of my friendships and relationships with family. Everything happens for a reason and there are some things I can see clearly now. Some are still not entirly clear and maybe never for me to know and that's okay.

Happy New year to you all!

My 2019 Tick-list ~ Update

Gosh, what a year. I feel like I've been through hell and back this year. The important thing to remember is that I came back. Not all the dust has settled from this awful year but I'm positive that things will continue to sort themselves out and we can move forward in a happier direction.

Family life is good. In just a few months I will have been with Mr K for 3 years already. We've had a lot of positive change, I'm now officially in my 30's, as a family we have pulled through a very difficult time and whilst like all families difficult times will always appear I know that I have a wonderful partner, amazing children, some truly great family members and friends in our corner and God truly is a part of our lives.

Now onto the actual post! Last year I wrote this post about my 2019 ticklist, a simple list of things I would like to accomplish in 2019. I had no idea how awful this year would become but even so, I feel really pleased that I managed to cross off and do as many as I did! Here's a round up of 2019's goals and how I plan to continue them in 2020.

  • Focus on my Eco goals.
I am pleased to say that we have all been working hard on this topic. This year really saw schools and local communities go further with key eco areas, recycling being the top of the list. 

We continue to recycle all we can. I now keep crisp packets for a lady at church who collects them, I am aware of many schemes that can mean you don't have to throw many other types of plastics away but due to storage I have struggled with this. We upcycled a little this year, mainly in the garden and I have donated a lot of things instead of throwing them out thinking no one would want them.

  • Get the garden growing flowers and food again. Attracting butterflies and bees

We had a really good growing year, not the best but I found the weather was really bitter and frosty still here until at least April which slowed our planting process. 

The garden needed a massive overhaul and I did what I could with the help of a good friend. We had tomatoes, raspberries, various herbs, a few flowers popped up for the bees, we also had loads of runner beans and potatoes. 

  • Get a divorce

I am half way there! Annoyingly I have had my decree nisi application returned twice due to addresses missing. On one occasion it was my fault but the other the form didn't specify something quite important. It's been returned to the court for the third time and I am hoping this time a nice judge will agree I can apply for my absolute, this means I should, with any luck, be divorced by Easter.

  • Come off anti depressants

I have actually done this! In July when things went really bad and everything started to feel too much I needed to look at a different form of  medication. I tried this new medication and it made me feel even worse. I have since decided that anti depressants are just not for me. I now have Kalms, a herbal remedy and a wonderful counsellor. I also try to make time for myself each day and enjoy my long showers. Of course some days can feel pretty dark but I am pleased to be in this place now and really proud given the crap I have had to deal with since July!

  • Focus on small money making 

Well I have continued with my surveys which have brought in some nice small amounts a couple of times this year. I haven't been able to make any kind of nest egg. Well I did but since August it's all gone on court fees, which is fine because it's for my children so it doesn't matter at all. Hopefully next year I will be able to use any savings on something more fun for the children instead!

  • Get my health back on track both mentally and physically

Mentally and physically I will always be working on myself, like most people! As above, I am keen to look after myself mentally to keep me in a good mood and looking forward to things. Working with CBT, my counselling, and my own self care methods I know things will be good. Physically I think I need to at least do some exercises that will help my back and arms to maintain the muscles which will be beneficial for the care I give to Mr K.

  • Decorate the bathrooms

One bathroom is completely finished (a part from the floor which needs some anti slip flooring costing a lot of money!) It is a Doctor Who themed loo! Our main bathroom is currently being painted white and will be a rather pink kawaii based bathroom- no shame!

  • Make my own reusable items

Annoyingly I have not managed to make anything this year. I would very much like to make homemade items such as candles and I have been collecting wax to melt down and make new candles for myself at home, I have just not got round to it! I also never got around to making homemade wax wraps for my fridge food. There is a project for the new year!

And below is a little list of the extras I wanted to achieve:

  • Learn to paint
  • Regularly write again particularly to pen pals
  • Read 30 books
  • Go to another christian festival
  • Spend some time doing more Bible study
  • Make homemade Christmas gifts
  • Play a song on the piano
  • Donate to good causes every month
  • Have a family gathering
  • Make sleep a priority and get into a good bedtime routine
  • Significantly reduce my take outs this year. I spent way too much last year!

7 out of 11 isn't too bad at all! Reading books has been something I simply could not focus on this year. It's only been in this month that I have managed to respond to all my very overdue pen pals but I am pleased I have done so. I have also not conquored the art of an early bedtime yet! I seem to find that after a long day the night is mine so I tend to definetly spend far too long doing what I want to do instead of sleeping and starting everything again the next day. 

However, I have reduced my take outs massivly this year, I had a wonderful day again at Big Church Day Out; a Christian festival in the spring, I have managed to donate money or items every month to several good causes, can play several songs on the piano thanks to Mr K teaching me and we had a huge get together at my Aunt and Uncles anniversairy bash this year which was amazing.

I will set up my new tick-list for 2020 shortly and I hope to do just as well if not better next year.

The Simple Woman's Daybook ~ November

For Today

It has been a long day. I haven't got much done a part from a small amount of home school and running around sorting the children out. I did manage a lovely long shower this evening however which is always a welcome now it's got much colder up here!

Looking out my window

It's very dark, a few street lights on outside and it's quiet. Often I still see people walking up the alleyway by our home but I guess with this weather they're choosing to stay in.. 

I am thinking

About an awful lot of things. Happy things and things that worry me, but which shouldn't worry me at all. Also about meals for the week, I'm always thinking of food!

I am thankful

For the lovely doctor we saw today, who was cheery and friendly and told me how well I helped Mr K. She even asked if I was a nurse! I've never had any training to be a carer, I do it purely out of love and believe it's why God made me the way I am. I am also thankful to Him for all the good he has brought towards the end of this awful year. 

One of my favourite things


Some photos from my day out with my Dad. He and my Mum visited us last weekend and we got to be tourists in my home town. 

I am creating

Letters. I love to letter write and it sort of got forgotten about as I had other things to prioritise.

I am wearing

My pyjamas. Fleece bottoms and a jumper so I can stay snug all night long!

I am reading (read) /watching (watched) / listening to

I'm reading a Doctor Who book on and off, some trashy magazines and some blogs. I am catching up on Eastenders and The Apprentice and listening to old songs from my youth as well as my album of Christian music that I love. 

I am hoping

For a good close to 2019 so we can focus on good for 2020.

I am learning

That I need to accept who I am but find a balance. I have to believe I have power and can be resilient but I need to work hard to do these things when I am such an empath because without the balance I am nothing but a people pleaser which is honestly no fun at all.

In my kitchen

It actually smells of burned cake! Midge thought she'd bake a cake but she forgot about it. Happens more than we care to admit! I'm hoping tomorrow it'll smell more like apple crumble!

In the school room

Writing letters to Father Christmas and learning about the science of fireworks in home school.

In my garden 

It's getting very muddy out there. I need more covers to put my beds to..well, bed over the winter. I have pumpkins to donate to the pigs and tomatoes still growing despite this awful autumn weather!

Post Script

It's been a while since I blogged. My blog turned 8 in September and I have hardly touched it this year. I plan to ease myself in gently and find a new focus for my corner of the web. 

Shared Quote

"Just because someone carries it well, doesn't mean it isn't heavy."

A moment from my day

English requires all the concentration!

Closing Notes

Please do join in by visiting The Simple Woman's Daybook here. X

Book Review ~ The Alphabet For Life by Fran Norris

I was recently contacted to review a rather lovely pictuere book called The Alphabet For Life by Fran Norris. I chose to share the story with my youngest, A, who I thought might enjoy it. My daughter  Midge also picked it up on several occasions and found it a lovely read, learning some new words and enjoying the beautiful illustrations. 

What did we think?

In the end all of my kids had a good look through The Alphabet of Life. I enjoyed the words and illustrations, the colours and fun fonts really stood out for James and A. 

Midge found it an easy read but enjoyed learning from the book, it appeals to her rather sensitive nature which didn't surprise me! 

All the children have given the book a 5 out of 5!

About the author

Fran Norris is a mother of two living in Devon. Like most parents, her daily life largely involves coming up with creative approaches to making the good-for-you stuff enjoyable and appealing to children. She believes that education should nurture our natural curiosity and empower each individual to reach their fullest potential.

 Inspired by the playful way children approach any task, from brushing their teeth to eating toast, Fran is convinced that fun should be at the core of all learning. As a former scientist, Fran approaches life as a wonderful experiment and loves to question everything. Her children provide a never-ending source of mystery and challenges to be solved. Creating THE ALPHABET OF LIFE reconnected Fran with her love of drawing and painting, encouraging her to work as an illustrator now.

Join the blog tour! Please do check out the reviews of The Alphabet of Life on the following blogs:

The Alphabet of Life by Fran Norris is available from Amazon in Kindle format for just under £3.00 and paperback for £10.00 and also on Goodreads