How is it October already ?

I have been reflecting about this last year and cannot actually get my head around what an incredible year 2016 has been so far. Of course the highlight has to be the decision to adopt my little one he has brought such a light into my life I cannot find the words to convey what a gift he has been. My friend described me as “radiating joy” the other day and I think she may be right I am so happy and so content at having another in my heart. Being back at toddler stage is very different now than it was ten years ago but I am loving every minute of it. I mean just the wide range of clothes out there now is enough to send your head into a spin. 

Yet besides this major change in my life I have seriously took this year by the horns and literally made the most of every second. I know this because right now my body may ache with exhaustion (whoops). 

I have stepped out my comfort zone in so many ways. Learning and participating in politics, attending and speaking at the Labour conference and getting involved in the local campaigns has been brain aching but also so fulfilling. I am actually scaring myself with how much I really enjoy this arena and the people I have gotten to meet and I am excited to learn and develop more.

I have also completed my degree and actually graduate this week, how exciting is this a childhood dream finally coming true. 

Still I think my real steps forward have been in friendship. Over the last few months I have said yes to invitations. Said yes to group meals, coffee mornings and lunch dates. A dear friend of mine told me that “I was scared of friendship” and she was so right I wrote here often about my desire for deeper truer friendships but the truth was I was hiding. Pulling away from any situation that required me to be open and vulnerable but her call out challenged me to say yes to being vulnerable and exposed and I’m loving every minute of it. I’m still a work in progress but honestly I am so grateful for those that haven’t given up on me. 

2016 has been an emotional rollercoaster I have laughed and I have cried and it’s only October but to describe 2016 I would simply have to say “it’s the year I began to live fully’. No more holding back, I’m loving life right now and yes it isn’t easy at times but isn’t that what makes it more worthwhile. The achievements, the moments.

I cannot believe Christmas is only a few months away, this year does seem to have flown by. Yet I am happy to hold on to 2016 a little longer it’s been a very special year.  

Countdown to 40

40

 

I realised last night that in under a month I turn 40. This is a major milestone in my life but one I am so excited for.

Growing up I remember thinking 40 was really old, I mean it seemed that my mom was 32 forever so I was sure I would stay this way. Yet time has moved on and I have been slowly creeping towards this age.

I remember when I turned 30 I was really freaked by it all, I didn’t feel ready to be 30 years old I was uncomfortable and not happy in my own skin. Life wasn’t easy and I had just started to show signs of the illness that changed my life. I look back to those days when I was chasing after 4 children under 10 and teaching dance. I remember just not feeling complete as if I wasn’t living life to the full.

Fast forward the last ten years and my goodness a crazy amount has happened. I have walked through some of the darkest moments of my life. My heart has been broken, tore up into millions of pieces and then trodden on. I never imagined at 30 that I would have to bury a child let alone two. I would have never been able to comprehend surviving the loss of my daughter and my foster son. Never in a million years. Yet somehow I have survived, my heart may never be complete but it is learning to love on, learning to beat strongly again and I am learning to live life to the full again.

I know deep down that 40 isn’t really a special age. I mean I preach often about celebrating every day we have here, but still I am rather excited for the day.

This may sound big headed but I like who I see in the mirror now. I may not be a dance teacher or able to fit my bum into a size 12 but I truly love my body and I’m so grateful to it. It has given me four amazing girls, completely different, independent ,inspirational girls. It allows me to foster two truly awesome boys, each a blessing in their own special way. My body may be a little battle worn but it’s not been beaten and I am so thankful for this.

I look back to the person I was 10 years ago and I know I have been on a journey. I use the term “self discovery” loosely  as is the only way to get close to describing  the transformation I feel I have faced.

I love who I am (yes I may have said that before) but I seriously do. I love my emotional side, no more will I apologise for my random tears or unexpected hugs. I’m empathic and I care and this is something I am proud of now. No more calling myself soppy and pathetic, I actually rock.

I love my courage, I am more willing to put myself out into the danger zone, being vulnerable, feeling scared but still moving forward.

I love my brain, it’s ok that I am a little geeky at times, that sometimes the idea of a good book wins against a movie or a night out. That I appreciate my own company and yes at times I get lost in my own mind.

I love myself and I love my life.

As I head towards this birthday milestone I do so with so much gratitude.

Over the last years I have had people walk into my life that have blessed me in so many ways. Friends that love me for me, deep true friendships that can pick up after a time apart just where we left off. Friends I can laugh with, friends I have cried on. I am so grateful for each and every one of them.

I am so thankful for my family, my daughters and my sons each so unique and so beautiful. Getting to watch them grow and learn and experience life is such a wonder, such a gift. My Dad, my Step Mom, my inlaws, my aunts, uncles, cousins, relantionships that I truly value and people I truly love.

My husband, I am completely in love with this crazy man, after nearly 20 years of marriage I still get that flutter in my heart when he walks into a room. He makes me laugh, he drives me insane, but he truly is my soul mate.

I am so thankful that I miss my Livvy, because missing someone is the recognition of an amazing love, a truly unbroken bond. My girl and I will be together again one day, but until then I am going to try and live as she did, fully and with all my heart.

So the count down to 40 begins and I’m so excited. I’m so ready to celebrate the 40 years I have been here with all my family and friends. An evening full of laughter, music and hopefully a gorgeous outfit.

Yet 40 is only the really the beginning, the start of a new stage in life, one I hope will be full of love and laughter and the people that really make my life truly amazing, my family and friends, because with them and because of them I actually love myself more at 40 then I ever did.

 

40 looking good

Style XL 2015, we came, we saw and we rocked it.

Last weekend was Style XL 2015 a plus size fashion event held in my local city of Birmingham.

Style XL is the brainchild of the wonderful Leah from http://www.leahxl.com.

cb22b4_db650136a49d4f24bb966355def6be82.jpg_srz_p_199_186_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srz

Leah is genuinely one of the nicest woman I know and someone who I owe a lot of my new found confidence too. It was only last year that I walked my first catwalk at Style XL 2014. This was thanks to the encouragement and support from Leah, this lady rocks.  Also a big shout out to her beautiful fiancée Clare who is truly lovely.

Seriously though I remember how much I shook with fear back there in 2014 I’m surprised I made it onto the stage.

Anyway back to Style XL 2015 how do I describe this weekend, two words “totally inspiring”.

The collaboration of plus size fashion brands and confidence building workshops created an awesome event.

Women from around the UK coming together to attend a fashion event where the size on your label is irrelevant.

Fashion brands showcasing the very best of plus size fashion proving that style comes in all sizes.

I had a blast.

I was excited to be booked to walk for the awesome Apples and Pears Clothing , Monroe Knows and Curvy Kate but on the day I actually also walked for Topsy Curvy and Lady Voluptuous too.

Five brands ooh get me.

This year was so different for me, although I was still rather shaky the woman who walked onto that catwalk was very different to the one from last year. I actually relished in the attention. I rocked my curves ha ha get me.

Stylexl15

Seriously Style XL was a great success.

Personally though for me Style XL wasn’t about the clothes (sorry brands). It was being surrounded by beautiful inspiring women.

Women that over the last year have become dear friends.

Woman working hard to empower others.

Building people up, encouraging, supporting.

My challenge  to myself this year was to turn the virtual hugs into real ones.

I am so confident behind my keyboard but this year I wanted to find that confidence in real life.

I think achieved this.

I got to catch up with old friends and make some awesome new ones.

I pushed all my boundaries, I introduced myself to people and I wore underwear on a catwalk ( don’t panic dad I’ve hidden the photos).

I achieved more than I could possibly have imagined and yes I may be having a little body wobble but I can see how far I have come.

Thank you Leah for having faith in me.

Thank you to the brands for allowing me to showcase your beautiful clothes.

I  want to end this post saying this, life is to short to wait to wear the clothes you want. Wear them now and celebrate who you are. Size is a number on a label don’t let it dictate how you live your life.

You are beautiful and don’t let anyone tell you different xxx

In honour of Livvy

Saturday was an amazing day, we held a Livvy’s Smile Donkey Tea Party.

The sun shone for us, the donkeys behaved and memories were made.

DSC_0090

I had a truly wonderful time.

I got to catch up with old friends and make some new.

I got to listen to laughter as it filled the air.

I got to watch children cover themselves with chocolate and cream as they ate their cakes.

Donkey rides, cart rides and so much more.

Seriously it was awesome.

Yet as I sat at home editing the photos from the day my tears began to fall.

My heart just ached for the missing piece of my puzzle.

Whilst I was blessed with some amazing hugs from some truly incredible children my heart yearned for my little Tinkerbell.

Birmingham Donkey Sanctuary holds a special place in my heart.

Each corner is filled with the echo of my Olivia.

Those first steps she took defying the Drs.

The giggles as she rode her favourite donkey.

alvis livvy

The dirty looks she gave Amber when told to sit up straight.

So many moments, so many memories.

 

I was asked why we started Livvy’s Smile and why I hold events that bring me pain?

It is simple really we started Livvy’s Smile because we are so grateful.

So thankful for the wonderful memories we have stored from Livvy.

Memories that truly get us through the darkness and we just want to give that light to other families.

On Saturday we created those special memories full of chocolate eclairs and cool moms.

Memories that will give us hope through the hard times.

Why do I it when it causes me pain? 

Because I can and because I have to.

I was blessed to be Livvy’s mom, to get to call this amazing girlie my daughter.

Livvy changed my life. 

The realisation that we didn’t have forever taught me to live in the here and now.

To live a life full of laughter and love.

 

So yes hosting these events will always be bittersweet.

I’m sure I will always return home and cry for the missing piece of my heart.

But I will never stop working hard to create memories because each moment, each memory is in honour of my beautiful daughter.

Every smile I see brings her closer.

 

Yes, I know my heart will always ache,

Grief is relentless.

Like a snake it slowly twists around your heart until you cannot breathe.

Your body craves for one more breathe, one more moment.

So as the tears fall I know they do so in honour.

Each teardrop is formed in everlasting love.

Livvy is part of who I am and who I always will be.

Livvy’s Smile is testimony to eternal love. 

IMG_0004livvy2

A wonderful weekend

We have just spend a wonderful weekend in South Wales.

We stayed on a new to us campsite

Nicholaston Farm

4552578641_866x225

As always I was rather nervous wondering if it was as nice as the website and the reviews said.

All I can say is that it was so much better.

From the first contact at the reception we were made to feel welcome on the site. They helped set us up near to the bathrooms so it would make life a little easier for us with our special needs child.

The site itself is immaculate and honestly the showers were better than the ones we have had home.

The views that surround the site are fantastic.

They have an onsite shop with fresh vegetables and fruit and a load of other goodies. The prices are also really reasonable which surprised me as one of my bug bears of campsite shops is the increase in prices. They even have their own pick your own fields, where you can spend some quality family time picking strawberries and other fruits.

The site also has its own cafe which serves a beautiful full breakfast oh and good coffee, really good coffee.

We had such a wonderful weekend that we have booked to stay for longer in August.

So seriously if you are looking for a campsite in Gower check out Nicholaston Farm as it is truly a first class site.

I love the Gower it is simply one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.

I can’t wait to go back.

4605850099

 

 

•All photos from the Nicholaston Farm website, I was chasing after the kids all weekend so didn’t get chance to take any decent photos. Next time…..

 

I promise

The beautiful Katt from The Curvy Cupcake  inspired the amazing  Debz at The Not So Secret Diary of a Wannabe Princess to set us all a challenge, the #PlusSizePromise.

The challenge is to blog five promises that we make to ourselves this summer.

Here’s mine.

 

1. Get my legs out, I’m tired of being hot and bothered every summer. This year I’m going to get my milky white legs out and let them breathe.

get my legs out

 

 

2. Take time out for myself. This is something I really need to work on, I need to say NO a little more and give myself some quality time, to read, to enjoy a meal with friends, a nights of dancing and copious amounts of alcohol

51grMGCKivL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

 

3. To not back out.  I can list you a million reasons why I shouldn’t do something. This summer is the start of me doing less of this. I want to be positive and believe in myself. I CAN DO THIS.

Icando this

 

4. Its not always my fault.  I am so good at blaming myself that it could be considered an art form. I’m happy to blame myself from anything from a squashed spider to a natural disaster.  But guess what it’s not always my fault and this is something I need to learn.

Itsnotmyfault

5. More time for us. To spend some more quality time with my husband. After twenty years of being together we need to start carving time into our schedule for quality time. More romantic meals, walks, cuddles.

moreofthis

 

So here are my five promises.

Why don’t you join in x

 

Lets play on National Children’s Day

Play, that thing we assume all children do.

But do we realise how important it is to our children’s development?

  • Play increases self-esteem and self respect.
  • Improves physical and mental health.
  • Extends their social skills, teaches turn taking and patience.
  • Encourages imagination and creativity
  • Offers opportunities and for children of abilities and cultures to play together.

 

Today is National Children’s Day

IMG_3383 (1)

Let’s celebrate our children and make today one of play.