26 December 2015

New York ~ our city of dreams

I don't know if my writing skills will ever convey what I feel about New York.
walk around the city and I just think, "I'm in New York City." I waste my time thinking just that. It's on repeat in my head.
The noise on the street, the muffled sound in Grand Central, the crisp winter air, the rain, the wind, the car horns, the smell of coffee and pretzels, the crowds, the steam rising from manholes, the helping hand held down to you as you wobbled on the ice rink, the magazine seller wishing passers by "happy holidays" and the Salvation Army, dancing with hand bells singing Jingle Bells gospel style. That's my New York. Iconic, extraordinary, anonymous, yet familiar. A human city. A mash of overlaying cultures coming together to create a unique thing. That thing is part of me and I hope that it has carved a little dent in your soul. 
Experiencing New York with your little hand in mine is something that I will treasure for ever. Watching you take it all in, I felt so blessed. You said "wow!" You shouted "look up Mummy!" You squealed with excitement every time you turned a corner. You pressed your face up to the window of Bergforf Goodman and delighted in the fact that they had used your favourite colour in their Christmas window.
You fell over on the ice rink and cried. Then you asked to go back out again. Then you shouted, "I'm doing it Mummy" as we shuffled our way around the rink. I welled up with happy tears when you said that you were proud of yourself. I am so pleased that you tried again sweetheart. A memory to treasure. 
You are only 5 and probably won't remember our trip. That's why I am writing you this letter. I want you to remember. You will go back. And you will piece together your experiences, your memories, our memories, our stories and our pictures. You will create your own jigsaw of New York. And I just know that you will love it too. 

Sweet dreams baby x

I love New York, even though it isn’t mine, the way something has to be, a tree or a street or a house, something, anyway, that belongs to me because I belong to it ~ Truman Capote

14 November 2015

Paris ~ 13th November 2015

Last night there was a series of horrible attacks on innocent people in Paris. Some angry people committed senseless acts of violence in the name of their cause. And that cause is complicated. 

People have been reacting all day to the events of last night. We had a chat about it. You said that the people should have stopped and thought about how scared the people they were hurting were. Then they might not have done it. You also asked me how anybody could hurt someone who is someone's mummy or daddy. All perfectly normal questions. We talked about how some people don't know how to deal with their angry feelings and that sometimes they do bad things to other people. 

You, today - 14th November 2015

I don't have all of the answers. I actually hardly have any! But what I do know is that my natural instinct is to hold you close and pretend that all of this stuff isn't happening. To be scared and to shield you from the world. I won't do that. And I won't tell you that some people don't deserve our compassion, or to live. I feel that we need to break the cycle of violence and see clearly the underlying issues which are dividing our world. Without seeing clearly we react with violence in a fog of our own interpretations. As I said, I don't have the answers but I will always talk to you about what you see and how you feel. I won't cloud your mind with my views but I will encourage you to think about why people do things. You talked about Paris for a while today. Then you told me that something sad happened to you today as well. Whilst trying to eat your sweetie necklace, the knot on the elastic kept going in your mouth! A serious problem if ever there was one.

None of us can fix the world alone but all of us can stop and think about how to learn from it and move on as a community in the shadow of something as horrible as the events in Paris last night.

One thing is true, I am very sad for Paris today.

"Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding" ~ Albert Einstein 


27 October 2015

The end of a journey

Yesterday, your 5 year Talipes journey ended (apart from a few stretches to do each day). After being cast from your toes to your thigh for the first 4 weeks of your life, to wearing a brace keeping your feet shoulder width apart with a metal bar for 23 hours a day for the next 3 months of your life, to wearing it at night times for the next 4 and a half years, this journey has been your whole little life. As I sit here today, that period of time has been your entire life. I know I've already said that! You couldn't sleep on your side, curl up in a ball, feel your duvet on your feet or get up in the morning. And now you can.
Waiting to be seen in hospital yesterday

I am not going to wax lyrical about how brave you were. Or how unfair it was. Or how strong you've been. I never have. The treatment was brilliant. It didn't hurt. We treated it as part of your life. Your routine. You knew no different and so you never questioned it. What I will do now is celebrate with you that you can now curl up in a ball, feel your duvet on your little feet and get up on your own in the morning and that, my darling, is something worth celebrating. Treasure the little things.
No more boots and bar

The memory I will treasure is you, my little 5 year old girl, walking barefoot along the clinical corridor of the hospital so that they could assess your walking. Your pale little feet on that big cold hospital corridor floor. They looked so vulnerable and I willed everything to be ok until I nearly burst inside. I wanted to hold you forever at that moment. 

And that's it. I started writing these letters to talk to you about your Talipes and they have become so much more than that and given me more joy than I can ever describe to you here. I hope, with all my heart, that you will enjoy them when you're older. Until the next time I write sweetheart, sleep tight, curled up in your little ball x


11 October 2015

Almost 5!

On your last weekend before you turn 5, we have been to the circus, made pancakes, marshaled at your Parkrun, practiced your cycling, sung songs, been out for lunch and watched films. I am constantly amazed by how quickly my baby is growing up before my eyes. No longer a baby but a little person, grabbing hold of life with both hands and soaking it up. I love that your teddy is currently blindfolded so that you can arrange her surprise birthday party without her seeing. And that you thought your fishes may have been playing tag when one chased the other in the tank today. You are so kind and you always see the best in people (and fish).

My little girl is hurtling towards her 5th birthday bursting with new knowledge, wonderful friendships, more questions than you can imagine, determination, an exploding vocabulary, compassion, imagination, energy and so many dreams. At 4 years 11 months and 20-something days, you are my whole world. 
You have been the sweetest, funniest, kindest, most inquisitive little 4 year old and, whilst I am sad that this is the last time I'll write to you at 4, I cannot wait to meet my 5 year old daughter and see what adventures there are in store for her.

I love you, always x

"If you don't know where you are going any road can take you there" ~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

29 August 2015

School days

So, today we got your new school shoes. Your first school shoes. My little girl is going to school. 

I have all of the usual feelings that mummies and daddies everywhere will have. Will she fit in? Will anyone be mean? Will she be able to get her shoes on after PE? Will she miss me if she falls over? Will she like her lunch? Will she be frightened to say if she has a tummy ache? I know in my heart that all that stuff will be just fine. So, here's what I wish for you as you start your educational journey.

I wish that you can keep an open heart to all the other children in your class. See them, hear them, listen to them and care. Be yourself and build friendships based on how people make you feel and always think about how you are making them feel. 

I wish that you are able to see and appreciate, every single day, the chance that you have to learn and grow in a safe, warm, creative and inspiring environment. Your school is the heart and the future of our community. The gift of education is precious. Always remember that. 

And I wish that you always feel brave enough to take every opportunity that you are presented with. Never think that you can't do something and always try and help the other children around you to try too. I hope you're never scared but, you will be sometimes, so I hope that you always have the strength to climb the mountain anyway. 

Your main concern currently is that there are, apparently, no toys in Year 3 and all they do is learn! "Can you believe it Mummy?" You asked in disbelief. 

You're my world sweetheart and I cannot wait to see what path you take and who you become. I'll always be here for you and I just know you'll be brilliant. I love you. 

"Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it." ~ Albert Einstein

15 August 2015

My baby

This weekend you have been very loving and stayed close to me. I've felt your soft little touch as I potter about the house, as I sit and relax, when we did Parkrun together and as I cook. Everywhere I've been, you haven't been far behind. I said to you that you'd been very cuddly. You said you just loved me a little bit more that day, with your palms upturned as they are when you're explaining something obvious. 
Me and you, Pescara, Italy ~ 2015

There are times when you drive me mad because you won't clean your teeth because your arms are too tired. Or you have a meltdown because you got ice cream on Right Bunny (screaming, "it didn't even land on her mouth so she could eat it. It's in her fuuuuuuuur!" - that happened today!) Or you behave as though I'm murdering you when I cut your finger nails, "not my little finger Mummy. It's just a baaaaaby!" Or you lose the tiniest dead leaf that you'd been keeping safe in your dungarees pocket and you scream that I have to find it, until something else catches your attention (that happened yesterday too!) 

But in spite of all that, my love for you is unquantifiable. It's beyond my reach. It's like outer space and it consumes me every day. You are part of me. My insides. Right now I want to hold you close and keep you there for ever. I want to freeze time with you at 4 years old. My beautiful 4 year old. I don't want to forget your sweet little voice chatting to yourself with your felt tips, your toys or your imaginary friends. Your perfect curls. Your big blue eyes. You told me that your little finger had grown a bit today. I said I wanted you to stay small and you said "I can't Mummy but I'll always be your baby."
My baby at Kokopelli Camping, Serramonacesca, Italy ~ 2015

Watching films together today 

I love you sweetheart.

1 August 2015

Kokopelli Camping ~ Summer 2015

Laying in the camp garden I can hear crickets, a few people talking, and you singing on your picnic blanket under the olive tree doing your colouring. 
This place is just perfect. We are surrounded by nature. Entertainment is home made. The views are dramatic. I hope you'll remember them. If not, you'll see our photographs and we'll talk about our holiday at Kokopelli Camping. We've met some wonderful people coming and going from our mountain home. Young people travelling Europe with a tent and a dream. Families escaping the speed of the world. Everyone here is resetting themselves with nature, with the sunsets  and sunrises.
You've mixed with children from Belgium, Italy, Canada and the USA. Language barriers haven't stopped play.
You've relaxed in the garden, played on the terrace and chatted under the olive trees. It's peaceful here. We're peaceful here. 
The surrounding countryside is breathtaking. It makes you feel small. And alive. It's refreshing and real. 

You've drawn Magicland on your piece of paper. You say that every country has its own Magicland where the villagers gather to watch the moonpick flyers who live in Magicland. I think this place has widened your mind to thoughts of other lands. Where people speak different languages. Were the food smells different. Where the  wind whispers different words to you in the trees. 
You've changed a little on this holiday. You're more confident with other children and more content alone. Even if you don't remember Kokopelli Camping, I think it's made its mark on you.

Never be afraid to climb the mountain baby. Curious kids will have the best adventures.
You & Alfie ~ August 2015

I love you.

13 June 2015

Being brilliant and being a kid

You're 4. You've never questioned your clothes. You want to be comfortable. You're a kid. That's how it should be. You want to have fun, play, learn, get better at things and love. 

You, being a kid this summer 

Today I saw a post on Instagram by a beautiful young women from a reality show promoting teeth whitening and tanning injections. Her post had >6000 likes in under an hour. In that same hour there were posts from equally beautiful women, in the same age group, giving everything they've got to be top of their game at their chosen sport with only a handful of likes.

Celebrity culture can be image conscious, empty and shallow. I hope you will be inspired by what people have achieved and who they are. Being brilliant is about real life, real friends, real achievements and real love. 

For now, just keep playing, having fun, learning and being the best you can be. You will care about how you look one day. That's normal. Just make sure the other stuff is always more important. 

Mummy with some of the inspirational ladies that I've met this year

You this morning, my inspiration

"I believe we all have a journey. I was once a small girl from Sheffield, dealing with bullies and normal teenage insecurities, but I always believed. And when you do that life can get unbelievable" ~ Jessica Ennis

24 May 2015

Parkrun #2

Last week you ran your first junior Parkrun at age 4. The youngest in a 4-14 age category you ran all the way round the 2km to the finish line. I cried, happy tears. So proud of you. My Talipes baby. 
Last week at the finish line

This week was a different kettle of fish! 3/4 of a km in you took a roly poly tumble and cut your knee. Clearly in pain you said you wanted to run on but after the 1km mark you had to stop. 

There were tears. I was devestated. A combination of you falling on the fun downhill where you like to put your hands in the air and shout "weeee", your disappointment at not finishing and your little hurt knee. All of that rendered Mummy useless at helping you through it all. Practical Mummy with the good advice, she wasn't there. Sniffy rubbish Mummy, she was. I feel your disappointment tenfold and I'm pretty useless at dealing with it. 

Still, a cuddle and an icecream later and all you wanted to do was limp over to the route and run the last km with Mummy. I told you you'd done 1km which was still pretty good but you sniffed that it wasn't 2. So, we ran the route together, on our own, and my determined little girl ran all the way to the finish. 

Of course I want you to be successful but more than anything in the world I want you to keep a tight hold of that steely determination that I saw today. "I didn't give up, did I Mummy?" I cried again. I am so proud of you sweetie. 
Quick stop for a swig of water...
....and to tell me to keep up


What I have learnt today is that things have to go wrong for us to learn how to be stronger. Without pain and failure we have nothing to overcome and learn from. Today you surprised me with your strength. My cautious and careful little girl is also quite brave and determined. 

"Here's to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them" ~ Unknown

I love you.

2 May 2015

Saturday May 2nd 2015

I haven't written to you in a while. We've been busy. Life is busy.

It's May 2015 and there is a general election next week. People will vote for who they want to lead our country. It won't mean anything to you at the moment but it will. You will learn about politics and I hope that you will care. Listen to everyone's views. And I mean really listen. Don't close your mind too soon. Form your opinions based on what your heart and mind are telling you. There are a lot of simple theories out there. The truth is often more complex and harder to understand. You should try. Your life will be richer for it.

Today it was just us. We had pancakes for breakfast, watched Mary Poppins, baked a cake & practiced on your bike. You are most content at home. It is definitely where your heart is. Your safe place. I was like you at your age. I remember it clearly. I loved my home too. I remember only glimpses of the house that was my home when I was four. Like the glimpses of your home that I took today....

 Over the garden gate

Our spring wisteria

At the park whilst you play

Watching Mary Poppins

Learning to ride

You've just informed me that the wind is changing and Mary Poppins has to go now. It's also time for your bath. 

I'll see you tomorrow sweetheart. I love you.

You and Ted

"Winds in the east, mist coming in. Like somethin' is brewin' and bout to begin. Can't put me finger on what lies in store. But I fear what's to happen's all happened before." ~ Bert, Mary Poppins 

15 March 2015

Mother's Day, Italy, cycling and dreams

You It was Mother's Day last Sunday. You were at your cousins' house for the day. Looking out of the garden room that morning at the snowdrops and the blackbird building a nest, I felt a pang of sadness that we weren't together. We spend every weekend together though and I knew that this little adventure would be good for you, and me. 
I don't want to just work, pay for things and exist but to really live each moment. It may be that we can't have fancy expensive holidays but I promise that, instead, we'll do the things that we really want to do. This summer we'll have a rustic Italian mountain adventure. We'll pack up the car and drive all the way across Europe with our closest friends taking in all of the sights and sounds along the way. We'll stop at alpine cafes. We'll cross mountain passes. We'll stay in pretty towns and we'll BBQ under the Italian mountain stars when we arrive. Real life and real places.

http://www.myfamilyandabruzzo.com/?m=1 (Auntie Lulu's blog about where we're going) 

You and Alfie will love your summer holiday together (not forgetting little Ralph)

We may not be together for every moment but I want to be one of the lead characters in your book. To inspire you to live. Which means that I should live my life, not just dream it, spending a little bit of time apart so that we can grow together in different ways. 
My adventure last weekend with the Women's Eastern Racing League

And home again

Today it's just you and me. You're chatting to yourself in the next room making up adventures for your toys to live. Make space for your own adventures too sweetie, and don't ever be scared to embark on them. They'll always be worth it. 

My beautiful little girl with a head full of dreams

6 March 2015

To my little woman-in-waiting

Being your Mummy, it's not always easy. When I first got you, could you tell I was scared? I was. I often am. But doing things that scare you always gives you the most amazing things. It's International Women's Day today. When I read this back in years to come I'll remember the 38 year old me as the one who cared passionately about the future for all of our girls and women, for you. My angle differs from the current thinking which calls for quotas and change. I'd like to educate from the ground up. To empower girls to strive for more. I can start with you and may never get further than that but I will hope that, even if I don't inspire anyone else, then at least you might. 

For now, I'm watching you flourish. Your face now holds the baby that you were and the young girl that you're becoming. It is the most beautiful transformation and so freaking amazing. Nature is amazing. 
I hope that you have dreams and desires and the confidence to make them happen. I hope that, when you travel, you are humbled by the vastness of the world. I hope that one day you will stop being scared and you will use the stars and the moon to see that the darkness is beautiful. I hope that you keep caring and I hope you can enjoy all that the world has to offer. Dream big sweetheart. Be able to say, "I can't believe I did that." Not, "I wish I'd tried."
"I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they've gone through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind" ~ Emily Brontë