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Seven years…

So today , we celebrate our wedding anniversary. 7 Years ago today, on a gorgeous spring-like day much like today in Bristol we tied the knot. We married in Andy’s family church in Winterbourne, the vicar who married us is the same vicar who christened Andy 32 years previously which I find incredibly romantic.

My wedding present to Andy was an E-Type Jag for 3 days, a car he’s lusted after for years and is what he has in his mind when he’s had a hard day. One day, when we can, it will be his reward for years of hard work. He drove us to a beautiful tythe barn in Tetbury, filled with fairy lights and playing our favourite songs in the background.

It was the perfect venue for our winter wedding. We ate lamb shanks, drank champagne and danced all night to a ceilidh band. We even had snow as I went to get my bags out of the car in the evening. The venue was filled with our nearest and dearest and up until then, it was the best day of my life (I’ve since, of course had 2 children so the best was yet to come at this point!)

We’re not ones for gushing outpourings of love so I won’t start now (and certainly not so publicly!) but I will say that the last 7 years have been amazing. They’ve given us 2 beautiful children, an exciting new start professionally (our ‘third child’), some great travel experiences and many, many happy memories along the way. We’ve gone from 2 people starting out on an uncertain future to one family, sharing the same wishes, hopes and dreams. Here’s to many more memories to be made…

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A round-up

I regulary read ’round up’ posts on other blogs (I particularly like Abigail’s) and until now thought my life was too boring uneventful to fill an entire post with our goings-on Chez Sherlock.

Well, after having a quick flick through my photos (turns out I’m pretty snap-happy since getting my new iPhone) it looks like our actually-quite-busy-after-all life is enough to fill a post. So, according to my phone, here was our week…

Got me some new specs (I can seeee!)

I met with a very lovely friend last week for her birthday and we shared an amazing (and very posh) afternoon tea at Harvey Nichols. It’s rare that I get the chance to go out without the kids and be, you know, me again so as her birthday coincided with a work day I decided it’d be rude not to accompany her whilst the kids were in nursery. We had a selection of mini-rolls, fresh (and warm) scones with clotted cream and jam and various treat-sized cakes. If I was rich, I’d do this every week.

Friday was a snow-day. So, the amount of the white stuff was pretty pathetic here but we used it as an excuse to have a duvet day. For the first time EVER, we stayed in our jammies til lunchtime and crawled back into bed after breakfast armed with blankets and DVDs. The kiddos were both feverish so we snoozed and lazed the morning away. So cosy.

Saturday night was a homemade-pizza-and-wine kinda evening. Since attempting a homemade pizza a few years back I can never enjoy a shop-bought one again. It’s so easy to make and I literally just chuck whatever I have to hand on top of it. This night it was chorizo, mushrooms, olives and peppers. Amaze.

Sunday, I got my running Mojo back. Since running the Bath Half Marathon last year I’ve completely lost all enthusiasm for running and have been trying (and failing) to get back into it since the summer. I hit the treadmill, just to test the waters, expecting to do 15-20 minutes but found myself carrying on for 4 miles. 4 MILES! It took 41 minutes and I was chuffed to bits since I’d not run for 3 months or so. I could barely walk for 2 days afterwards but that’s besides the point, right?

The lovey Kimberlee invited us to celebrate her gorgeous son Henry’s first birthday over the weekend. It was at a soft play centre and was manic to say the least with crazed kids, eyes glazed over shooting around the place but the boys loved it. Little Henry seemed to enjoy himself too with a huge pile of prezzies to work his way through at the end.

There are a few people I regularly talk to on Twitter and Kimberlee is one of them. Abigail and Jo were there too and it’s lovely to put faces to Tweeters. I’m still quite new to Twitter but love how it’s bringing me together with such great people and starting you give me (and the boys) a busier social life. Oh, and I can’t mention the party without giving credit to the cake. Kimberlee runs a baking business and that lady has serious talent. Henry celebrated with an amazing chocolatey triple-decker creation and thanks to the run I enjoyed it guilt-free. The best way.

 

 

We acquire the strength we have overcome

As a parent, the very worst thing you can imagine is something terrible happening to your child. Something terrible did happen to my child 3 years ago which I’d like to share with you. It may happen to you (or someone you know). Statistics tell us it will and this may help remove some of the blind panic and terror I experienced and leave you better equipped to deal with it.

3 years ago, when Finn was 10 months old, I spent approximately 2 minutes thinking I was going to lose him. These were the longest 2 minutes of my life, the feelings during which I can never explain but just remembering that moment still brings me to tears, 3 years on.

10pm and Finn is sleeping soundly. I, at 3 months pregnant am doing the same in the room next door. Andy is at the Studio, putting up signs on our new building. I am woken by a part cry, part moan coming from Finley’s room. If you’re a parent you’ll now that any unusual noise coming from your baby is an immediate cause for alarm and I jumped up, instantly awake (no mean feat for a 3-month-pregnant lady) and ran to his aid.

He was bright red and stiff as a board, almost like he was paralysed with his little arms fixed to his sides and feet pointed like a mini ballerina. As I lifted him to me I felt him red hot and his head lolled like a newborn’s. I ran downstairs, grabbed the phone and dialled 999 then Andy.

The operator was calm and assured me help was on it’s way. He kept me talking and tried to calm me down. I was, as you can imagine, beside myself, sobbing for someone to help my baby. He ran though some vital questions (is he breathing etc.) and told me to call straight back if I was worried before the ambulance arrived.

Minutes later, Finn stopped breathing. That was the moment. The moment I never want to experience for as long as I live, when I thought my baby was dead. I frantically called the emergency services again and with that, saw the blue lights outside my door.

4 paramedics ran into the living room. 3 to his aid and 1 to me. They were incredibly calm, I was in awe of this serenity in such a situation. At this point, Finn was breathing, though still unconscious and rigid. The paramedics took his temperature, confirming what I already knew, that he was running a very high fever and swiftly administered Calpol and ibuprofen.

We stripped off his clothes and I held him tightly to me as they explained their suspicions, that some babies have immature immune systems and are unable to regulate their temperature. When a fever ‘spikes’ i.e. raises rapidly, it causes the brain to go into overdrive and triggers a convulsion.

When we think of a convulsion, fever or fit, we think of someone lying in the ground, limbs shaking and twitching. The paramedics explained that Finn was also likely experiencing a kind of convulsion, one which causes the muscles to tighten and limbs stiffen.

I was asked to get dressed and pack a bag for myself and Finn as we were to be taken to the Children’s hospital for tests. Andy, now home after a frenzied drive back, followed on the car.

Once at the hospital, Finn had cooled down and was in more of a normal, albeit very sleepy state. More tests were done, urine taken (not easy to do with a 10-month-old) and we were taken up to the ward for an overnight stay so they could observe him closer and determine exactly what had happened.

He was wired up to a machine to monitor his blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen saturation and placed in a cot in just his nappy, which to me seemed unbelievably cruel in the middle of January but I was assured he was to be kept cool.

Andy returned home (there is only one adult bed next to the cot and we figured we’d function better if at least one of us got some sleep, though I doubt he did) and I sat watching my now sleeping baby. Every fibre in my body was telling me to crawl into the crib with him, pick him up and hold him to me but the wires and devices attached to his little body prevented me from doing so. I felt like my heart at been ripped out, trampled and put back in my chest.

Needless to say, sleep didn’t come easy that night. The nurses had to come and do hourly checks, each time waking him as they probed his ear with the thermometer and each time weakening me a little further, the longing to hold him close getting stronger with each visit.

When morning came, I was straight up and succumbing to my primal instincts, reached into the cot and pulled my baby to me, careful not to displace any vital equipment attached to him. I let him sleep on me, reassured by the gentle rise and fall of his body until the consultant paid us a visit.

They were worried about his chest and wanted to x-ray him. Andy hadn’t yet arrived and, being pregnant I was unable to go down with him. He had to be torn from me, both of us in tears as he was taken down with a nurse to have the x-ray.

At some point during the day, he was to be given IV antibiotics as a precaution. It took 2 nurses and me to hold him down to get the needle in his chubby little hand. Because he was so fleshy they couldn’t locate the vein. Here we were, him writhing in pain, me holding him down when all I wanted to do was push them away, get the needles away from my baby and gather him into me. A lasting memory is the look he gave me as they’re trying to get the vein, blood everywhere, his eyes twisted in pain looking directly at me as if to say ‘help me, Mummy. You’re supposed to be protecting me’, yet there I was, on their side fighting against him.

The results came back and they confirmed he had pneumonia and the fever had indeed induced a convulsion. He was kept in another night for observation and when they were happy all was well, we were sent home, tired and emotionally drained with a bottle of antibiotics and ibuprofen.

Since then he’s had at least 10 more convulsions. Each time accompanied by a fever and each time putting the fear of God into me. As he’s gotten older, they have become more like ‘fits’, eyes rolling, mouth foaming, body shaking and a few times he’s stopped breathing. It is, frankly, terrifying.

During the 4 months following this first episode, we had 3 more hospital stays. He had to endure a lumbar puncture and spent 3 days in an intensive care unit in New York (not a holiday I’d ever like to repeat).

So, why am I telling you all this? Before this happened to us, I had no idea this could happen. I’ve since discovered that they affect 1 in 20 children between the ages of one and four. In most cases, they are harmless and merely a complication of the rapid rise in temperature. It’s extremely rare for them to cause long-term damage and most children will grow out of them by the age of six.

Melissa has a child who suffers from them and recently tweeted that a lady who’d read her blog was with her niece when she had her fist seizure and, as such, knew how to deal with it. I hope it doesn’t happen to any of you but if you’ve read this, and it does, I hope you’ll at least be a bit less scared.

It often happens without warning but is sometimes preceded by a viral infection or illness. If your child does start to convulse, put them in the recovery position, make sure their airways are clear and dial 999. Whilst you’re waiting for help, strip them done to their nappy and administer Calpol (infant paracetamol) once they’ve stopped shaking.

A Friday Adventure

Ok, so calling it an adventure makes it sound much more grand than it actually was. Although I’ve lived in Bristol my whole life (bar a 3 year jaunt across the other side of the world) I live out-of-town and rarely venture into the heart of the city. Only for work (and that doesn’t count).

Today I had to collect my Mum from a garage in Bristol and we had a few hours to kill before her car would be ready. Although I see her every Friday when she’s off work, we rarely actually do anything of any note.

So we decided today to have a little meander through Clifton. She (mis?) spent her youth there and always enjoys visiting her old stomping ground. Plus, she knows the are way better than me so I’m (not entirely) less likely to get lost, as I so often do.

A school friend of mine, Jess, regularly tweets about her cakey adventures with her gorgeous daughter in the village so our first stop was the Mall Deli. We decided to stop for a coffee and couldn’t resist one of their delicious cakes. The lady took the boys to the front of the cafe to choose a cupcake each and Mum and I shared a slice of coffee & walnut cake.

The staff were wonderful and the cakes absolutely delicious. Since the Lionheart launch I’ve had The Homemade Mama’s cupcakes on my mind and wondered if these would satisfy my cravings. Although not quite up to Kimberlee’s fine creations, they were a close second, absolutely delish. We’ll certainly be visiting again soon. Oh, and they do children’s hot chocolate too. Made them feel very grown-up.

As we passed Lisa Elliott, the florist herself came out bearing armfuls of hydrangeas. I had some of these in the house last year and can’t resist their perfume filling the room (and, er, masking the doggy-baby smell). She immediately struck up a conversation with Finn, asking if he knew what colours the flowers were and telling him the names of the blooms. He was enthralled, and we were sold. 2 Pots were put aside for us to collect on our way back.

A quick browse around the antiques shop (man, I could spend some serious money in those places if, like, I had some), a stop at the butchers and we were on our way back. We collected our flowers and my boys received their first rose each from the florist. Well, who’d have thought a single red rose could please 2 children so much? (did I ever tell you how easily pleased my kids are?).

So, clutching their newly acquired stems in one hand and the other paw clinging to the grown-ups we made our way back (via Waitrose, of course) to the garage and ended our City adventure.

I’ve just received an email from my Mum listing all the things which made her smile today. The list was massive and it just proves that pleasure can be gained from the simplest things in life. Even if one of those things is my eldest son falling down the toilet 🙂

Thanks for the memories

Last night we said goodbye to 2011. In style of course, with champagne flowing and bellies filled to bursting. Today has been much about reviewing, reminiscing and enjoying the memories created over the past 12 months…

January

A month of discovery, learning self-feeding and what tactile fun can be had with lumpy porridge

February

Signalled the end of a tiring journey to my first half marathon. Completed in a respectable 2 hours and 15 minutes. An achievement indeed, one to hopefully build on in 2012

March

A third birthday this month. Enjoyed so much that he finally gave in to slumber still clutching his celebratory balloon

April

Royal history was made and enjoyed complete with patriotic face paint and little flags waved furiously at the beautiful princess on screen

May

Was a month spent enjoying the good (and not so good) British weather. Trips to the seaside made for much merriment with seaweed

June

Saw the first harvest of our veggies. Patience not being my strongest attribute (something of a weakness when trying to grow-your-own) I couldn’t resist pulling one of the babies up to see how they were coming along. Did this little guy a favour as it happened. His brothers and sisters sadly perished thanks to the dreaded root fly

July

Another birthday, this time for an excited 2 year old and the start of months of gorilla spotting around Bristol to celebrate Bristol Zoo’s 175th birthday

August

Provides one of the biggest events in the Bristol calendar, the international balloon fiesta. Sadly, I didn’t get any snaps of the festival itself but the wind was in our favour and I did capture the salt-and-pepper sky as the balloons came over our house

September

Provided us with a last opportunity to soak up the Indian summer sun. We took a trip to Slimbridge and made the most of the water park in the late summer heat

October

I picked up this little chap from a farm shop and as well as a (probably not so) spooky Halloween lantern, he provided pumpkin bread, muffins and a delicious soup, all for about £1.50. Who says you can’t eat well on a budget?

November

Chicken pox x2. A tough month

December

My absolute favourite time of the year. Christmas craft, cake, Baileys and sparkly things more than made up for a crappy November

So here’s to a happy and healthy 2012. Happy new year everyone x

Wishing, and hoping, and thinking, and praying

So 2011 has passed uneventfully. I say this touching wood, there is still 24 hours left for something momentous to happen *cough* lottery win *cough*.

Nope, unlike the past 5 years, we’ve had no pregnancies, births, medical emergencies,new homes, marriages or life-changing work opportunities. To be honest, after the whirlwind that was 2006-10 it’s been nice to sit back, take a breather and enjoy the fruits of our labour (quite literally after giving birth to 2 babies in that time).

I don’t make resolutions. Instead, I begin each year with hopes, aspirations and wishes for the coming 12 months. They don’t always materialise and I sometimes lose sight of my initial new year motivation but I try to stay mindful of what I am aiming for throughout the year.

Here is my wish list for 2012:

1. I hope to find the strength to be more patient with my children. They are 2 and 3 and we certainly have our ups and downs, what parent of pre-school children doesn’t, right? I accept the challenges won’t be any less, um, challenging but I will try to handle them better. I will be more patient, less shouty, spend more quality time with them and above all, let them be kids. I often forget they’re just doing what kids do and as long as they have their boundaries, are safe and respectful, then that’s ok. Oh, and thanks to Charlotte for the book recommendation, it’ll be a Godsend, I’m sure.

2. I will put more time aside for my friends. I’ve let friendships slip over the years and I need to spend time nurturing those friendships to keep important people in my life. I miss my old girl friends, friends from way back who knew me before all this grown up stuff got in the way.

3. 2012 will be a turning point for the business. 2011 was an amazing year, one which saw us take on staff and having an offer accepted to buy the space we rent. I will work hard to build on this, grab new opportunities and make the business work for us, freeing us up to work less-crippling hours and spend more time enjoying the family.

4. I will be healthier. I know, right? Probably the most predictable. This time though, it’s different. Less gym, more activity. I’ll spend more time on my bike, get back into running after my 7-month hiatus and now the boys are older, enjoy longer, more regular walks.

Wow, there’s loads more I should be aiming for but for fear of setting myself up for failure, I’ll concentrate on these four. How about you-do you make resolutions? What are your aims for 2012?