Time to Live

I have started and not finished so many blog posts since I last wrote. Upshot is, life has become really busy again. I just about get to the end of my excuses when suddenly I have run out of time and have to go.

last night I watched a documentary on BBC2 called A Time To Live. If you have a vpn you can set to UK you can watch it here

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08r3xyv/a-time-to-live

sorry but faffing about trying to make links and photos look nice from my phone is something that ends up taking up far too much time and pushing me over my allocated blogging time if I am going to have a shot and getting back to this little corner of the web I am going to have to take it back to basics!!

I loved the documentary, it is 12 stories of people living with terminal illness and on the bbc2 site you can watch extended versions of each interview. It gave me so much food for thought and really spoke to that part of me that wants to move on from cancer but also wants to hang on to that glimpse of a better way to appreciate life that I feel I gained when I was living through treatment.  The glimpse I have since worried about losing, know I am losing. I don’t want to just forget what happened and go back to the day to day forgetting to savor the moments or make memories and not just get my house in order but keep it in order.  Because I really sympathize with a lot of the views expressed, that the world can seem a brighter and more beautiful place when you are forced to face up to the fact your life might not be as long as you had hoped. That impulse I had to organize my photos for the kids, make them blankets or other tangible reminders of me.  In the back of the mind of anyone who has gone through cancer is the threat of it coming back. I know it might and while I don’t want that thought to be a negative I can use it to make sure I keep living and enjoying the time I do have, and don’t wait until I am finally given an expiry date.

Watch it, tell me what you think, I would love

to hear your thoughts x

 

Swan reveal

 

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Pretty beautiful hey? It was Y’s choice and its just so like him to choose something so unexpected. He adores it and that is what matters.  I am also really happy with how it turned out.

Another busy week winding up. The days just fly by. I know I always say the same but here is how our week currently looks.

0730 wake up, get ready

0845 leave for school

0900 kids to school/ I go to work

1400 collect kids

1420 lunch at home

If B is working they stay in til 4pm and have lunch at school. If he isn’t then we all meet at home for lunch and I go back til 5pm. Sometimes I take lunch and don’t come home.

1500-1700 homework and downtime (some tv but mainly drawing/similar)

1730 activities.. these are

Monday – O football/ Y climbing

Tuesday- Y football/ N plays at football pitch with friends

Wednesday- as above but flipped, O football/ Y plays

Thursday- as Tuesday

Friday – swimming – them classes, me laps.

Then as soon as we get home between 1845/1915 it’s food, showers, stories, bed.

In between the above B and I try to shoehorn in our own exercise. I take an extremely circuitous route to work to lengthen the less-than-10-min-stroll to a 40min walk through the countryside at least 3 times a week, and I do my 30min BBG circuit on tuesday and thursdays while Y has football because O is old enough to play there unsupervised. On these days I get home from work, change my clothes, set up the stuff I need for the circuits, rush them to the football pitch, rush home, jump about like a loon for 30mins, stretch, shower, change and rush back to get them.

B is extremely active, he trains for long trail runs so he has two x 2 hour training sessions twice a week in the evenings plus one long bike ride and two runs (1 x 1hr and 1 x 2-3hr).  All up it leaves sadly little sofa time which is a real sore point for this repressed couch potato.

It’s taken me many many years to allow myself this time for my own exercise. It’s a REAL issue for many mothers, and I still do not know why we find it so hard to give ourselves time and freedom to do what we want to do for ourselves. B has always been adamant about needing his own time.  When O was born he played in a band and would rehearse 3 or 4 times a week.  I am not going to lie, I used to resent it a lot. I never stopped him and I tried to be supportive and not to complain but I definitely felt it. But, and thus is important. It was only because I was envious  I was well aware of that even as it was happening; I have always felt that he had the right idea. That we are absolutely entitled to our own time and space. I just put a million barriers in my own path to make it harder, even impossible, for me to do the same and I know I am not alone.  If I had a baby all over again I would probably be the same.  There is something about those mutually dependant years when they are so small that you can justify the time you need for essential separation like work. But time for yourself is like an indulgent luxury and gets relegated to back of the line.  But we all know how important it is! What is our deal? Why do we make it so hard on ourselves? The people that steadfastly insist on looking after their little corner of space and time for themselves have the right idea and everyone else knows it.  Well, we all get there eventually, I guess and so I am finally doing it. And it’s great!

I wish I could say the results of all the exercise are stunning but at 39 the sad truth is that I can’t acheive the same results in 12 weeks that a 21 year old can.  For all that 40 is the new 20 or 30 or whatever, some things we just can’t fight. This week I finally had confirmation that I am post menopausal. The very first dose of Xeloda in July 2015 stopped my periods in their tracks and I have never had one again. Of course for the longest time this was seen as ‘normal’, a standard side effect, “it will come back”.. but an endocrinologist finally did some blood tests and confirmed what the hot flushes told me long ago.  Apparently this isn’t a common side effect of the treatment I had, so I am just one of the lucky ones! Ha.   Let me stress.. I knew this, I in no way expected them to say anything different, but actually hearing it did hit me. Not right there, but as I walked back to the car, her words about not needing to bother with birth control anymore, not even ‘in case’, ringing in my ears, I felt tears pushing up behind my eyes, stinging as I tried to hold them in.  It’s so silly. I have my two boys and although I always kind of hoped for a third, B was so adamantly against  I knew without a doubt that it would never happen.  And I don’t miss periods AT ALL.  I can’t explain why, then, it made me feel so sad.  Maybe its because this actually makes me feel more ‘different’ from my peers than the cancer did.  But it’s fine. I’m fine. Not having periods is a definite bonus and the hot flushes aren’t that big a deal. It’s a small price to pay, when all’s said and done.

 

SaturYAY

Finally we have a headboard for our bed! After a couple of years of uncomfortably stacking pillows between my back and the cold wall behind it at last I can sit up in bed in luxurious comfort.   Weekend mornings are the one time I demand to be left alone for an hour or so to have a cup of tea and just be free of orders/complaints/endless meandering stories that I never quite understand. It is a slice of time that has not been easy to carve out for myself and it is still very much a work in progress (as a small shadow darkens my door waving a picture for my consideration) but on the whole I think I am a pretty responsive, attentive, parent to two children who, in my opinion, rank fairly highly on the emotional/attention needs scale (is there such a thing? Maybe I score high on the need for my own space scale).  and now coming up fast on a decade of motherhood I am finally getting firmer about demanding my right to my own space and time. Even in the form of an hour to drink tea in peace, twice a week.

So the headboard.. you probably have one. Most competent grown ups do, I imagine. But our bedroom is the most forgotten, abandoned wasteland of the whole house.  We don’t even have curtains, or pictures on the wall. So this is a proud acheivement and now I am browsing etsy and pinterest like mad to find inspiration to finally get our room looking finished.  We made it ourself and it was super easy, no I don’t have any progress photos, it was that quick. Glue foam to wood, wrap batting around and staple it to the back of the wood.  Wrap fabric around and staple aswell. Hang it on the wall.  There is no reasonable excuse for why it took so long.

Reading 

Carrie´s War with my oldest. We have just started but the first chapter left us wanting more…

we are also about halfway through Trucker´sbut it hasn’t really sucked us in which is a bit disappointing because I LOVED the Discworld novels as a teenager and thought the Bromeliad Trilogy would be a great place to start.

Big hits with the 9 year old for reading to himself are the Wimpy Kid books, David Walliams, Futbolisimos and Big Nate.  Once he finds a book he likes he is an avid reader so I am constantly on the lookout for new suggestions.

My very-nearly-6 year-old still enjoys a massive range of his extensive library of books and hasn’t latched on to any style or series in particular.  We particularly like Jack and the Flum Flum Tree (and any and all Julia Donaldson books), Milo Armadillo, The Pirate Cruncher, The Pirates Next Door and The Jolly Postman (skipping the Big Bad Wolf page)among many others.  I am equal parts relieved and disappointed that he has not had the same passion for The Magic Faraway Tree series that O had though I think I could actually read them half asleep with my eyes shut, so there would be that advantage.

Eating

Last week B and I went to a work lunch and were served Pasta Puttanesca and we have made it a few times at home since where it has been heartily welcomed into the regular rotation of meals, though it is more than a little obvious that a dish containing  such unappealing components such as mushrooms and black olives is only accepted as a compromise in getting to eat a meal with such a naughty name (Cue hearty and repeated exclamations of Pasta PUTTAnesca throughout the meal)

Exercise

I am finishing week 11 of the BBG and feeling really pleased with myself. I did my first round in 2014/2015 (18 weeks to be exact) before I suddenly hit a wall.. only to be diagnosed with colon cancer a few weeks later.  It was somewhat gratifying in a bizarre and dark way to know that it wasn’t my advancing age and old bones and a decrepit pelvic floor that made me suddenly unable to continue where apparently hundreds had managed before me.  After a year of treatment and surgeries left me with no muscle and masses of cellulite dimpling my skinny yet flaccid thighs I finally marshalled my willpower and got back on the wagon.  I did the 4 week pre-bbg workout and then did week 1 to 6 of the BBG. After week 6 the workouts keep increasing in general mental-ness and I didn’t quite feel ready so I went back to week 1 and this time I felt fine to carry on through.  I do modify some moves, jump lunges feel like a one way street all the way to a sprained ankle or twisted knee so I do them static. And the ones where you do a burpee and leap onto a bench have been abandoned in the wake of a slew of bruises and scrapes.  But even with modifications it is still a hard workout that you can fit in just about anytime, anywhere. I plan to just keep doing 12 week loops until I get bored.  I don´t see a massive change on the outside but have definitely made leaps and bounds in strength and fitness and I am trying to keep that as my main goal.

Making

I am on the final straight with my swan for Y’s wall.  I have been plodding away with it since November, although not solidly, and like most projects has lost its sparkle a little as it turned into something to be finished though as i now start the finishing up and putting together I am again excited to see the finished product. Hope to update on this very soon.  If you like the look of these check out Vanessa Mooncie´s Animal Heads it was a present last christmas and I have made 2 fox heads (one as a gift and I loved him so much I made another for myself – he doesn´t look as boss-eyed in real life as he does here) and now the swan.  O has a request queued for the stag head and then I will DEFINITELY need a break from animal heads for a while.   I would not describe myself as anything more than a novice crochet-er so if you know the basic stitches and want a change from blankets I would absolutely recommend you give it a whirl.

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Back feathers. And a rock that we can’t seem to lose no matter what.
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Chest feathers

To life.

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A view all the way out to sea and a low winter sun. Candles lit in the little old chapel for my mother in law and her two sisters, all lost to us in January several years apart; 2014, 2015 and now 2017.    Almost the whole generation gone now, between them and others, in so few years.

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And still. As a family says goodbye to someone they have loved for so long (forever) we have beautiful days and gorgeous children.  May it be forever so.

 

Happy 2017!

I am so behind in my blogging I don’t even know where to start. For months I have started various posts along the line of, so its September.. so its October now..oh, hey november!  And now there doesn’t seem much point trying to even think back over what I might have said had I blogged on time.

Life is busy and busy is good! Busy is normality and work and keeping up with the house and kids to school and football and the rest of their chock-a-block social agenda.  I have noticed I have even been taking a lot less photos over the last few months and I like to think its down to being more in the moment, living and doing and being rather than worrying so much about recording it all.

For me 2016 was a good year. I am hearing a lot about 2o16 being a hideous one for many people but for us that was 2015. So 2016 was a major improvement. I finished chemo and had my ileostomy reversal. I had some major changes at work, I am back on the regular exercise wagon, life just generally got back on track.

I hope 2017 brings more of the same.

Happy New Year!! Molt d’anys!! Feliz Año!!

Take heart

I keep an eye on various tags related to cancer and there are always new ones popping up on the feed. Other young (ish.  Heavy on the Ish) people like me, mothers and fathers of small children, still reeling from the shock of their diagnosis.   Just starting to navigate the way their life has changed in such a short space of time.  I don’t know if any of them will find my blog or even be in the mood to read past the blathering about how much fun! we are having and how happy! we are.  But I hope maybe at least a few might stumble across it. I mean my writing isn’t great. They may well regret it.  And I DO talk quite a lot about nothing.  My life really isn’t especially interesting to anyone except me. But I was there. In that place.  Not very long ago at all. And it was royally shit. And now I am here. And life is good.  I don’t assume anything about the future but I look forward with optimism and the knowledge that we can get through whatever life has in store. Even when it feels like we can’t, we do.

I read a lot of people feeling angry about being called brave during this time. I think I actually wrote a rant about this at some point. But now, on the other side, and looking back, I do feel I was brave. I am proud of myself for getting through that.  Whether it was stoic and optimistic or weeping and wailing and complaining the whole way is irrelevant. Whether you beat it or it keeps coming back is irrelevant.  Showing courage is being brave. And what is showing courage?  The ability to do something that frightens you. Being brave.  No one chooses this fight, no one wants it. But we fight it as best we can. Sometimes better and with more grace than other times. But we keep going, one foot in front of the other, picking ourselves up after each scan, each test and needlestick, blood samples, MRIs, the indignity of paper knickers and gaping gowns, intimate procedures, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, changes to our body, skin, hair, mood.  It’s the one thing we all win on! You don’t even have to do it happily  to qualify!  You can scream and shout and be furious at the world and suffer the treatments gracelessly and with no humour whatsoever.  You are still facing it, the SCARIEST SHIT EVER.  And you might not feel brave now but I hope one day you can also look back and celebrate your strength in the face of adversity.

That was all I wanted to say, really. I have no idea if this even pops up on anyone else’s feed but if anyone stumbles across it and it serves to buoy them up during this really hideous time, well that’d be great.

 

Countdown

While the Web and blogosphere fills up with back to school themes here in Spain we have another 2 weeks to go.  The summer holidays here are SO LONG, the kids break up around 20th of June and go back 12th September.  Almost 3 months. 3 MONTHS! It is such a long time.  This year has been a really good one. Partly because I have had less work than usual ergo less stress but also because after last year I have taken extra care to relish every moment and I have.  I have struggled too, sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the demands of work, the kids, the house, and how everything continues on despite this massive thing that happened and which continues to roll over quietly in the back of my mind.  I don’t dwell too consciously on whether my cancer might come back but I can’t fully forget about it either.  H and I were talking the other day about the kids, speculating about them as teenagers and that scary little voice wondered if I would be here to see it.  I don’t talk about it to anyone, not even H, because I know they would just tell me not to think like that, be positive etc etc and I don’t need to hear that. I am positive and I don’t think like that. Often. But it’s there. And I can’t entirely ignore it. I don’t know that I should.  I have never been more aware that we only have today. Only today to live, to love, to make memories, no one is promised anything else.  And holding on to that has helped me to revel a bit more in the little moments.

Not that it is all sweetness and light and perfect idyllic family life. Ha! The kids are cranky and bored and despite a great summer full of fun activities they are tired.  They are craving the routine of school with the predictable days and weeks that tick over one the same as the other.  God, aren’t we all?  They are getting nippy with each other and little scraps are forever springing up.  Y particularly is just tired.  He can’t stop having fun and it’s getting too much for him.  But. Then we have moments like yesterday afternoon when I got home from work and took them to the beach with a friend.  Where the light was long and golden and the water was wavy and perfect for crashing about in inflatable donuts and boats.  The water was so warm and we played for ages.  As I watched their happy faces, grins from ear to ear, as they bobbed about on the surf, laughing their heads off, I tried so hard to mentally capture the moment. Thinking ‘keep this moment, hold it’. So many little moments we forget only to, MAYBE, remember one day when someone else prompts us, or otherwise lose them forever.  Being out in the waves, jumping alongside I couldn’t take a photo but it was like one of those golden memories in Inside Out.  The image of their faces beaming inside a golden orb rolling down to core memories, lighting up family island.  Of course like many a  real family day (vs a pinterest family day) it was followed by tantrums and fights and overtired tears (Y I am looking at you) But it seems to be to be the standard price we have to pay, and on balance it’s worth it.

Summer you have seriously been a beauty. We have splashed and dived and rolled in sand. Made sandcastles, floated on donuts, played football and frisbie on the sand. Had parties until late, laid outside until 1am to watch shooting stars, complaining and giggling and fighting under blankets on the sand. Visited family and friends and had them visit us, gone to new places.  Gone out in boats, canal and sea, jumped on trampolines, jumped off rocks, climbed trees, hit up the Waterpark and kissed and cuddled and shouted and fought and made up, cried and laughed and loved loved LOVED it all.