Thursday, 27 June 2013

A long nine months

I've pretty much held my breath for the best part of nine months.  I've occupied my days and filled my time and tried my very best to keep my head above water.  I always knew that this pregnancy was going to be difficult, in so many ways.  But I continue to be surprised by the twists and turns in my emotions, right up into the final weeks.

At times I feel completely overwhelmed with panic; bubbling in my throat and gripping at my heart and threatening to consume me, the fright and the worry that something will go wrong and I'll have another baby in my heart instead of my arms.

I also feel weighed down with a sadness on my shoulders that's so unbearably heavy.  As we approach Daisy's birthday I cannot help but re-visit the heartbreaking memories of the time - the joy of her birth, the earth-shattering moment when she died, the crushing memory of cradling my newborn in my arms for the first and last time - the only time.

There's also a sense of tentative anticipation.  Maybe, just maybe, this baby will be born, she will take her first breath herself and they will pass her to me straight away.  Maybe I will be able to hold her into my arms and gaze lovingly at her face for the first time.  Maybe I'll stroke her cheek and kiss her forehead and Dad and I will beam with joy and love for our new daughter.

We are physically prepared for our new arrival.  The practicalities are in place.  The bags have been packed and arrangements have been made for Lizzie to be cared for whilst I am in hospital.

Emotionally and mentally is a different story.  All we can do is keep focused on the last few days, one day at a time, and get through each one.

Thank you all for reading and for your supportive messages throughout, they have meant a great deal to me.

Best wishes

Monday, 24 June 2013

A proud moment

It's not often that the blog spotlight is on my husband, Dougie - but today's post is all about him.

This is a very special week for him and I'm thrilled that we have reached it.  This week he graduates from university with a first class honours degree and I couldn't be prouder of all that he has achieved.

We knew that for him to return to full-time education as an adult, a married man, a father - was going to be hard work from the start.  Fitting in the required amount of effort, commitment, and study around family life was going to be testing at times and we prepared ourselves for it.  This decision impacted every area of our lives; we changed our lifestyle, we made our budget, we cut back on expenses where we could, we planned in time for each other and time for the children and we knuckled down to some hard work to pull it all together.

Studying and research fitted in along with all the other commitments my husband had.  At times things were difficult and he needed to prioritise or face stretching himself in too many directions.  He juggled and somehow kept all the plates spinning.

Then Daisy died just before his final year, his honours year, and our world stopped.

Everything we had planned and dreamed of and imagined fell apart in an instant and grieving made us question all that we were doing.

For Dougie that meant questioning his future.  Where was he going?  What was he doing?  What was the point in continuing?

He was at a low point and all he wanted to do was throw in the towel and hide from the world.

But he found the strength to brave the journey of life ahead.  A life without our daughter Daisy was not what we had planned.  But him achieving a degree in a subject he was passionate about was definitely what we had planned, and he managed to find the courage to continue.

The last 12 months has been such a rollercoaster of emotions for all of us, Dougie included.  He was grieving for Daisy and yet focusing ahead, working hard to keep on top of the demands of his honours year and to keep our family life going.  He is very, very good at what he does and despite the challenges, he never gave less than 100% effort to every aspect of his education.

The final pieces of work were submitted, the final presentations were given, the final deadlines were met.  He had done everything he could.  I was already proud of him for his commitment and his success, no matter what the final mark would be.

To find out that he had not only passed, but achieved first class honours, was such a proud moment.  It was the recognition he needed for all his effort and determination during the darkest of times.

This week we'll celebrate that achievement at a graduation ceremony and it will be such an emotional moment for me.  I always knew that he could do it and I believed in him even when we were consumed in the saddest of days.  I'm looking forward to seeing him accept his certificate with pride - and I'll be bursting with pride myself.

Well done!!!!

Saturday, 22 June 2013

A baby quilt in progress

If you've been keeping up with me on my Facebook page you'll know that last week I started another quilt.  I know, I know - I said I was going to give the quilting a miss for a while, but once we'd finished decorating the baby's room I couldn't resist making a quilt to match the bunting (more on that later).

I'm now desperately trying to get this quilt finished before the baby arrives at the end of the month.  Well, I do work best with a deadline!

I cut 10cm squares from a selection of fabrics in greys and pinks and arranged these in a random pattern, 11 squares by 15 squares.  I then machine-sewed the squares into rows, and then stitched the rows together to form a cot-sized quilt top.  No real skill or fancy patterns here!  All I need to do now is assemble and quilt it, then apply the binding.  I've got a lovely red fleece blanket to use as the underside of the quilt, so it will be lovely and cosy.  I'm really hoping to have this finished by early next week, all being well - but I always underestimate just how long the final stages of quilt making take!

My bunting was finished and was looking fabulous - until my husband hung it up for me and it was really too long for the space I wanted it to go.  So I need to do some unpicking and re-assembling to get the flags the right distance apart - the bunting is personalised with the baby's name, so I can't just drop some flags, unfortunately!  Hopefully I'll have this completed early next week too.

My To Do list seems to be never-ending - no matter how hard I try to tick things off, more gets added to the bottom!

Best wishes

Thursday, 20 June 2013

New gluten free products

As regular readers of my blog will know, I was diagnosed with Coeliac disease in 2009 and as such, I need to follow a strict gluten-free diet.  I'm always trying new ways of converting recipes and meals into gluten-free versions, and giving new gluten-free products a go.

Recently I'd heard of a company called Ilumi, who offer a range of "free-from" food choices that are gluten-free, nut-free and milk-free, and I was pleased to receive some of their products to try out.  The Ilumi approach is to make tasty dishes with British ingredients, using naturally allergen-free recipes rather than substituting ingredients with alternatives that often affect the end result.  As this is the type of cooking I adopt at home, I was intrigued to try the range.

Chicken Cacciatora | Ilumi

The Ilumi dishes I tried were tasty, packed with flavour and contained plenty of chunky ingredients.  The packaging was clear to understand, with the ingredients list set out on the front of the pack - once you are diagnosed with a dietary condition, you become very skilled at reading ingredients lists thoroughly!  I was also pleased with the convenience of the products - it is very rare that I eat out of the house for fear of cross-contamination or accidental gluten-poisoning, so the last time I went to my sister's house, I took my own lunch with me!

Tom Kha Gai Soup | Ilumi

I only need to worry about gluten-free as part of my diet, but I can imagine that having a nut-free and milk-free range of options to choose from must be fantastic for those who need to follow those dietary restrictions as well.

Sweet Chilli Stir Fry Sauce | Ilumi

The Ilumi website,, contains lots of interesting and useful information as well as the opportunity to buy the products online for home delivery.  I noticed that they are also offering an introductory discount of £10 off when you spend £20 or more (until the end of June) - I ordered a stock for myself and everything arrived, securely packaged, a couple of days later.

Best wishes

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Making the most of the sunshine!

We've enjoyed some glorious days recently and have taken advantage of the sunshine at every opportunity.  One of my favourite places to go is the beach, no matter what time of year - you may remember our visit to the beach in November, where we wrapped up against the chill and enjoyed the fresh air regardless!

As soon as it shows signs of being a lovely day, the children always ask to go to the beach.  On our latest visit, there was barely a cloud in the sky and the temperature had reached 20 degrees - now that's warm for us here is Scotland!  We are so lucky to have lovely beaches like this within a short drive of our home - we can decide last-minute that we're off to spend the day there, and once we are packed up we can set off and be there in next to no time!  None of the "are we there yet?" questions from the back seat of the car!

On this occasion we'd packed a picnic and spent the day making sandcastles, digging in the sand, collecting buckets of water and just generally enjoying the fresh sea air and the sun's rays.  A healthy dose of vitamin D and family time together - you can't go wrong with that!  Lizzie even braved a dip in the sea (and let me tell you, the water was freezing!!) and didn't blink an eyelid.

Of course we ended up with sand all over the car, in all our bags and shoes, covering the picnic blankets and lining the bath at bathtime - but it was all worth the clean-up operation to have the chance to soak up some time outside together!

I hope you've been enjoying some sunshine wherever you are!

Best wishes

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Refreshed and recharged!

Every now and again we all need some time out, some time to reflect and re-focus.  I for one have been taking that time recently to re-charge my batteries, take stock, and spend time with my friends and family in the run-up to our baby's upcoming birth.

I've been spending a lot of time in peaceful places.  How lucky are we to have views like this almost on our doorstep?  The kingdom of Fife is a beautiful place indeed and there are so many wonderful places to spend time.  I've been to the beach a lot, enjoying the sound of the water and breathing the fresh air.

Spending time in my garden has also made me happy.  Now I'm no gardener by any means, but I like to look at pretty things and seeing all the beautiful spring flowers bloom over the last few months has certainly lifted my spirits no end.  First came the crocuses, and they brought a welcome splash of purple to the garden after the long months of winter.  Next the daffodils appeared, and their cheery yellow heads bobbing up and down made me smile from the kitchen window as I washed dishes.  Finally my tulips made an appearance and their lovely colours brought brightness around the edge of the patio.  I'm so glad I thought to plant bulbs last autumn and I was delighted to see all the colour in the garden.

For the first year since moving into our house, we have daisies growing in our grass.  Every time I see one I smile and think of our darling Daisy.  It will be her birthday soon - where did the last year go?

It hasn't been all peace and tranquillity!  There's been trampolines and picnics, trips out and visits to the park, school activities, after school activities, camping, creativity and mess - in general just a huge old dose of real life.

There's also been an extreme amount of DIY going on at home, with the PC buried under a pile of dust sheets for what seems like weeks!  It's finally been uncovered and we're now back up and running online.

And I'm back to blogging.  I enjoy writing; it's good for me to have an outlet to write and share.  And of course I get to interact with lots of lovely readers, which pleases me no end.

Thanks for all your continued good wishes and kind messages - it's always so nice to hear from you!

Best wishes